Axa to sell out of £1.4bn tobacco holdings

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Axa has pledged to divest its €1.8bn (£1.4bn) in tobacco investments, saying smoking presents the biggest threat to public health.

The insurance and investment firm says it will immediately divest its €200,000 in tobacco stocks, and over a longer period will sell out of its €1.6bn in tobacco industry bond holdings. It will also not initiate any new positions in tobacco industry bonds, effective immediately.

Axa incoming chief executive and deputy chief executive Thomas Buberl says: “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.”

He also urged other firms to follow the move, saying “our hope is that others in our industry will do the same”.