In a letter to MSPs, Pauline McNeill, chair of the board of trustees for the Scottish Parliamentary Pension Scheme (SPPS), said its Edinburgh-based fund manager Baillie Gifford had “responded positively” to a request last week to seek “immediate divestment” of its Russian investments.
It emerged last week the SPPS had around £300,000 reportedly invested in Sberbank, Russia's largest financial institution. The cross-party Scottish Parliamentary Corporate Body (SPCB) called for urgent action and asked for representations to be made to the scheme’s fund manager.
Ms McNeill wrote: “As chair of the trustees of the SPPS, I am writing to provide you with an update on the divestment of Russian holdings from our pension fund. Last Monday, I wrote to our fund manager Baillie Gifford seeking its immediate divestment from Sberbank, and any other Russian companies in which we have holdings. I am able to advise that Baillie Gifford has responded positively.
“Baillie Gifford has advised the trustees that all Russian equity has either been sold or is in the process of being sold.”
Ms McNeill said a “rump holding” of Russian equity, that had been fair value priced at zero, was the only remaining equity from the country, but was unable to be sold due to sanctions on Russian banks.
She added: “The only other position held by Baillie Gifford is £6,500 worth of bonds that will also be disposed of as soon as trading permits. I am reassured by Baillie Gifford’s stance and the action it is in the process of taking.”
Next week new trustees are set to join the board of the SPPS.
Ms McNeill said: “For many reasons, the role of trustees is an important one. It includes the duty to act on behalf of all scheme members – MSPs past and present – especially when appalling events such as these materialise. I will keep you informed of progress from Baillie Gifford.”
Green MSP Ross Greer had previously lodged a motion in the Scottish Parliament calling for divestment.