Swiss End Sponsor Deal With Glencore on Reputation Concerns: NZZ

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Switzerland’s Department of Foreign Affairs has ended sponsorship agreements with dozens of companies including mining and trading giant Glencore Plc because of image concerns, the NZZ am Sonntag newspaper reported.

Nicolas Bideau, who heads a ministry unit that promotes Swiss interests, told NZZ that “mining is currently so controversial that a partnership with Glencore cannot generate a positive image transfer.”

The Swiss ministry has implemented stricter guidelines for promoting companies abroad since the beginning of the year after it was criticized in 2019 for planning to include tobacco product producer Philip Morris International Inc. as a Swiss pavilion sponsor at the World Exhibition in Dubai, NZZ said.

Glencore, based in Baar, Switzerland, said it was “surprised” by the decision.

“In 2017 and 2018, we worked together with the Swiss government, commodity companies and non-governmental organizations on the Swiss Guidance for the Implementation of the UN Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights in the Extractive Sector,” the company’s spokesman said in a statement to Bloomberg News.

In the comparative analysis of the Responsible Mining Foundation, “Glencore achieved very good results in March 2020 with regard to due diligence and transparency in commodity trading,” the spokesman said.

The government has shaved its list of private sector partners to 36 in 2021 from 83 in 2020, NZZ reported. Other companies affected by the stricter sponsorship practices include arms maker Ruag International Holding AG and chocolate maker Confiseur Laederach AG whose chief executive has been accused of making homophobic comments, NZZ reported.

“If Switzerland’s image suffers, its prosperity also suffers,” Bideau said.

©2021 Bloomberg L.P.

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