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8 July 2010

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Forest finance
Legality verification & supply chain control

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Indonesia

HSBC pulls investment from Sinar Mas after Greenpeace protest

Bank notifies Greenpeace it has sold shares in Indonesian palm oil producer.

HSBC has sold its shares in Sinar Mas, the Indonesian palm oil producer accused by Greenpeace of illegal deforestation, after becoming the latest target of the environmental NGO's anti-deforestation protests.

The global bank is the latest in an increasingly long list of major companies dropping the Sinar Mas group. Nestle ditched the palm oil supplier after Greenpeace targeted its KitKat brand and Tesco announced this week it would stop buying pulp and paper from Sinar Mas after Greenpeace released a new report, 'How Sinar Mas is Pulping the Planet'.

"Increasingly household brands, supermarkets and banks are distancing themselves from Sinar Mas' rainforest destruction," said Ian Duff, Greenpeace's forest campaigner.

Greenpeace claims that protesters sent 10,000 emails to HSBC after the bank's connection to Sinar Mas was revealed earlier this year.

Spoof adverts, mirroring Greenpeace's viral campaign against KitKat, were also posted online.

A letter sent from HSBC to the environmental campaign group stated that the bank no longer held shares in Golden Agri-Resources – the palm oil arm of the Sinar Mas Group. Six weeks earlier HSBC had admitted in letters to Greenpeace and to the Guardian that it held shares via asset management funds including its Climate Change Fund.

HSBC has an ethical forestry policy, which states that the bank "will not finance plantations converted from natural forest since June 2004", but the rule currently does not apply to its asset management funds.

"This is the first indication that a bank can, if they so wish, exclude specific companies or industries. However it wasn't voluntary - it took a lot of public pressure from Greenpeace to move HSBC," said Duff.

Late last year, Greenpeace released a report on Sinar Mas' activities in Indonesia, claiming that it has been selective in complying with requirements of the Round Table on Sustainable Palm Oil, and that its subsidiaries were flouting legal requirements in developing land for palm oil production.

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