Investments into two Russian companies from the Essex Pension Fund “remains under review and appropriate action will be taken”, Essex County Council has said.

An Essex Pension Fund spokesperson said that it has “very limited exposure” to Russian Investments -PAO Severstal and X5 Retail Group.

The investments make up 0.001% of the total Pension Fund, valued at around £8.7bn.

The two companies are not linked to the Russian government, a spokesman said.

“The Fund and its investment advisers continue to monitor the situation closely,” the spokesman added.

An Essex Pension Fund spokesperson said: “The Essex Pension Fund has very limited exposure to Russian Investments. These investments make up 0.001% of the total Pension Fund value.

“Currently the fund holds two small direct investments in Russian companies (PAO Severstal and X5 Retail Group) which, to the best of our knowledge, are not linked to the Russian government.

“The fund and its investment advisers continue to monitor the situation closely.”

A spokesman added: “Essex County Council has already been public in its condemnation of the Russian Government’s illegal re-invasion of Ukraine, and while we are aware of a very minor investment by the Essex Pension Fund into two companies we are not aware of any connections with the Putin regime.

“The position regarding these investments remains under review and appropriate action will be taken.”

Unlike neighbouring Suffolk County Council, it does not have any exposures to energy contracts.

Suffolk County Council said it would break away from its £10m contract with the state-owned energy supplier, held by its wholly owned company Vertas.

An Essex County Council spokesperson said: “Essex County Council has no contracts with Gazprom.”

A spokesperson for the Local Government Association (LGA), who represent councils in England and Wales, said: “Councils are deeply saddened by the tragic events unfolding in Ukraine and are following the situation closely.

“It is up to individual councils to decide how to act locally but, like many organisations, they will be reviewing what action they might want to take in light of UK sanctions and the ongoing situation.”

The crisis comes just weeks after the Essex pension fund was told it should be directed toward more sustainable net carbon opportunities, as it commits to a raft of climate change recommendations.

While Essex County Council’s cabinet has agreed to the recommendations from the Essex Climate Action Commission, the commission’s chairman Jules Pretty said the enormous pension £6.5 billion fund – one of the largest of the local government schemes – could be used more usefully in more sustainable investments.

According to a report published in February by Platform, Friends of the Earth Scotland and Friends of the Earth England Wales and Northern Ireland, the pension fund invests nearly 2% of its total fund on oil and gas.

Speaking to the Essex County Council last year Mr Pretty said: “If there were one area that I would ask the cabinet and leader of the council to think about that would be the investment policy for the Essex pension fund – one of the largest in the country – and a very important fund.

“And there are opportunities there to show sustainable investment policies, the green finance that was discussed also at COP, opportunities to make sure that the investments are put in the way that will help the economy as well as the environment for the future.”


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