A combined $4 billion Tasplan and Quadrant Super is to reassess all global equity managers on their willingness to screen out tobacco stocks.
The two funds are in the closing stages of a due diligence process to begin a merger.
Due to their relatively small scale, both invest in pooled funds which makes it harder to tailor investments towards investment beliefs.
Tracy Matthews, a trustee for Tasplan, speaking at the AIST ASI conference in Alice Springs, said in line with the shared beliefs of the two funds, managers that proactively screened out tobacco stocks were now wanted.
She added that it would not be enough for a global equities manager to have no tobacco producing companies in its holdings, as without an explicit policy for excluding tobacco stocks there was the risk that they could be held in future.
The funds are taking an anti-tobacco stance, in part, because of the reputational risks, but also from an ethical stance and are working with Mercer on the policy.
Before the conference, Naomi Edwards, chair of Tasplan, spoke of the impending merger. “We are hoping to sign our implementation deed soon, that is at a very advanced stage,” she said.
Tasplan and Quadrant are also busy finalising a business case for both funds to merge with the Retirement Benefits Fund (RBF), which covers government workers in Tasmania.
The treasurer of Tasmania, Peter Gutwein, will make a decision on the proposal in October. If he decides against Tasplan-Quadrant, the RBF fund will be put out to tender.