A Timely Facebook Exit Has One Nordea Money Manager Cheering

(Bloomberg) -- Sasja Beslik, the head of sustainable investing at Nordea Bank AB’s $357 billion asset management unit, is making sure everyone knows that his decision to dump Facebook Inc. last month just paid off.

In a tweet that included a graphic showing the 19 percent slump in Facebook shares on Thursday after it published disappointing revenue and user-growth numbers, Beslik wrote “This is why we divested Facebook last month, ESG pays off!”

A Timely Facebook Exit Has One Nordea Money Manager Cheering

The Stockholm-based fund manager berated Facebook investors back in May, amid signs that the initial shock of a data privacy scandal was wearing off and money was flowing back into the company’s stock. Between a low at the end of March and this week’s stunning selloff, Facebook shares had gained around 40 percent as the market appeared to move on from the privacy issues.

Beslik has argued that all fund managers with sustainable investing goals should avoid Facebook. In June, he complained that management at the company had been unresponsive to his efforts to learn more about plans to address the data privacy scandal that erupted earlier this year.

The roughly $120 billion that Facebook lost in market value on Thursday made U.S. trading history, and other investors who had previously been critical of the company were also quick to comment. Jeffrey Gundlach said it was “obvious” that Facebook would meet this fate, while others said they were “vindicated” by this week’s revelations about the social media company’s prospects.

Beslik first blacklisted Facebook shares in March after the Cambridge Analytica revelations surfaced, meaning no further shares could be bought. He then went on to dump the stock in June. To be sure, his actions only reflect what goes on inside the sustainable investing unit of Nordea’s asset management division, and regulatory filings as of late June suggest the bank still holds shares in Facebook.

“A company of this size with this type of risk related to their business should have been far more responsive and pro-active in the way they respond to investor requirements,” Beslik said then. Not “a single serious sustainable fund in the world” should have a holding in Facebook, he added, citing the lack of feedback and Nordea’s own investigation.

Beslik has made clear that he thinks ethical investing ultimately carries a financial reward. Investments that take into account environmental, social or governance factors have been growing by 12 percent annually, according to Pictet Asset Management. It’s become increasingly routine to take such matters into account, so much so that by the end of this year half of all global assets under management will incorporate ESG considerations, the firm said in a report released earlier this year.

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