Multinational insurer AXA
has decided to divest its assets in the tobacco industry, currently valued at £1.4bn.
According to the World Health Organization, tobacco consumption is one of the leading causes of non-communicable diseases, which are responsible for 68% of all deaths worldwide. It is responsible for six million deaths each year, and is expected to rise to eight million by 2030, mostly in developing countries. If the trend is allowed to continue, tobacco may lead to over a billion deaths in the 21st
In alignment with its responsible investment policy, the AXA
group will dispose of its investments related to the tobacco industry. It will sell its equity holdings in tobacco companies immediately, which are currently valued at £150m. All new investment in tobacco industry corporate bonds will be ceased and run off its existing tobacco industry bond holdings, currently valued at around £1.2bn.
“We strongly believe in the positive role insurance can play in society, and that insurers are part of the solution when it comes to health prevention to protect our clients. Hence, it makes no sense for us to continue our investments within the tobacco industry. With this divestment from tobacco, we are doing our share to support the efforts of governments around the world. This decision has a cost for us, but the case for divestment is clear: the human cost of tobacco is tragic; its economic cost is huge. As a major investor and a leading health insurer, the AXA
Group wants to be part of the solution, and our hope is that others in our industry will do the same,” said Thomas Buberl, deputy CEO and incoming CEO of AXA