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Daily Telegraph: BP included in new M&S ethical fund

EXTRACT: “Including companies such as BP and Shell is a pragmatic compromise…

By Faith Archer
Last Updated: 12:40am GMT 17/03/2007

Marks & Spencer has launched a new ethical investment fund which has troubled oil giant BP as one of its biggest holdings.

BP has been criticised for safety and pollution failings, including the deaths of 15 workers at its Texas City refinery and oil pipeline spills at its Alaskan unit. Also, US regulators are scrutinising BP’s dominance in the propane gas market after allegations of price-fixing.

The new M&S Money Ethical fund seeks to invest in UK companies that make a “positive contribution to the community or environment”, and to avoid investing in companies that have a “poor environmental record”.

James Thorpe, spokesman for M&S Money, said: “The fund does not exclude oil companies but, as oil and gas stocks have a high impact on the environment, it can only invest in ‘best in class’ companies.

“BP may have had some high-profile accidents but in terms of the overall business it is one of the best in the world at creating cleaner fuels and leaving the smallest footprint on the environment they are working in.”

Marks & Spencer sold off its financial services division to HSBC in 2004, while retaining a half share in any profits.

HSBC has split the ethical fund’s management between two companies, with Sinopia Asset Management investing 60pc of the fund’s assets, including the holdings in BP, while Jupiter Asset Management invests the remaining 40pc. Brigid Benson from ethical investment specialist independent financial advisers The Gaeia Partnership said: “Including companies such as BP and Shell is a pragmatic compromise, as best in sector compared to other major oil companies such as Exxon and Total.

“An ethical fund which avoided oil, banks and pharmaceutical companies would be very volatile and could underperform the market.”

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