Updated versions of the university’s investment portfolio are published every 6 months and should appear on this page. However, they often seem to appear after a delay (the latest ones were published 6 months late. Also, as of January 2014 (the date of writing), the most recent publication does not contain figures for the value of the university’s investments in specific companies. The most recent list of investments with full details of figures is available through an FOI request here (This is from December 2012, and is also available in .doc format here).If you would like more recent figures, please do submit another FOI request and let us know the response! We have been arguing for more transparency.
A spreadsheet with a breakdown of these investments is available here. Please note that the size of the overall investment portfolio has increased dramatically since that date, by roughly £50 million at our most recent count, and is likely to continue to increase. Please also note that the university has since divested from Ultra Electronics as a result of our campaign.
Some of these investments have clear ethical issues.
Monsanto is involved in Genetic Modification (a controversial issue) as well as in suing farmers who try to reuse their seeds (Monsanto has patented seed varieties and prefers farmers to buy these seeds from them directly each year. This practice has been linked by some to farmers’ suicides).
Rio Tinto was divested from by the Norwegian sovereign wealth fund due to Rio Tinto’s involvement in the Grasberg Mine in West Papua which is causing “severe environmental damage”
Royal Dutch Shell has been the subject of a campaign by Amnesty International for the environmental and social impact of its oil extraction in the Niger Delta; it also settled out of court recently with the families of Nigerian activists executed by the Nigerian government in 1995; these activists included Ken Saro-Wiwa and Shell was heavily implicated in their killing, though they have not accepted any liability. It is also currently the largest individual company the University of Edinburgh has investments in.
SABMiller was the subject of a (succesful) boycott motion at EUSA last year for their alleged tax avoidance in developing countries. ActionAid has been running a campaign against them as a result of this (unfortunately the boycott motion was overturned by the EUSA board of trustees).
Until September 2013 the University of Edinburgh also invested in Ultra Electronics Holdings. Ultra Electronics manufactures components for military drones, including the US predator drones. These have been used in contravention of international law and causing many civilian casualties, and psychological trauma – both to these populations, and the drones operators back in the US. see Living Under Drones for more information about this.The University has now recognised that this was an inappropriate investment and has divested.
We believe that the university should divest from harmful companies and invest in companies involved in socially and environmentally beneficial activities.