Sunday 22 April 2018

Trinity College has almost €800k 'invested in weapons, cigarette companies and aerospace industry'

Students' union president wants discussions on what would be 'prudent and fair' investments

(Stock photo)
(Stock photo)
Mark O'Regan

Mark O'Regan

Trinity College has more than €470,000 invested in the arms and aerospace industry, the Sunday Independent can reveal.

It also has a stake in "big tobacco" - with €323,387 invested in one of the world's largest cigarette producers.

The university's endowment fund is currently worth more than €180m.

Now, new financial records reveal Trinity's diverse portfolio of money-making investments.

These include a stake in African and Chinese banks, fast-food chain McDonald's, and the aerospace and defence industries.

It also has a stake in Paddy Power Betfair bookmaker, fashion label Ralph Lauren, streaming firm Netflix, Pepsi, Nike, and Wynn Resorts, a developer of luxury hotels and casinos.

Campaigner: Kieran McNulty has called for a consultation Photo: Tom Burke
Campaigner: Kieran McNulty has called for a consultation Photo: Tom Burke

Money has also been allocated to Starbucks, Tiffany jewellers, Under Armour clothing, Ryanair, and the US media and entertainment giant Time Warner.

Among the more contentious stock is €344,995 ­invested in BAE Systems - Europe's biggest military contractor and the third largest in the world.

Major military hardware projects involving BAE include the design and manufacture of Britain's Tornado attack and reconnaissance jet, used in the Falklands War, and its RAF successor the Eurofighter Typhoon.

The company also designs and manufactures warships and submarines.

The £30bn British multinational has its headquarters in Guildford, Surrey, with facilities worldwide.

A further €53,050 is invested in Lockheed Martin - one of the world's largest defence companies, and the manufacturer of Trident intercontinental ballistic missiles.

The US defence contractor was recently awarded a nearly $541m (€494m) contract to produce and deploy Trident II (D5) submarine-launched nuclear missiles.

The Trident II D5 is the latest generation of the US Navy's submarine-launched ballistic missiles and has a range of 7,359 km.

In addition, some €72,153 is held in The Boeing Company, which specialises in the manufacturing of fighter jets, advanced weapons and missile defence, as well as commercial aviation.

Records also reveal €323,387 is invested in the multibillion-euro Altria Group, the maker of Marlboro cigarettes.

Overall, the TCD investment package dates back 200 years - and is linked to a complex trust fund essentially made up of donations received by the university.

Trinity's portfolio is managed by Irish Life Investment Managers, an asset-management group.

The college has allocated its entire endowment package in trust funds.

As certain funds are "passively managed", the college says it cannot directly control where these are dispersed.

Critics argue, however, it still has the option of diverting its financial investments to more "ethical" funds.

Kieran McNulty, the president of TCD students' union, pointed out that in December the university announced it would sell off all of its investments in companies that have their primary business in the extraction of fossil fuels.

The decision followed an intensive 15-month campaign by students in the college.

Mr McNulty said it was a "welcome announcement", adding that these latest revelations need to be addressed.

"I believe that a consultation should be had across college as to what prudent and fair investments should be - as I have no doubt this would surprise many in the Trinity community," he added.

In a statement, the university said its investments provide "financial support" for various university activities.

Earnings from these investments are accrued through "prudent investment management and new gifts".

This helps to ensure the "academic excellence, strength and stability of the university", it added.

Sunday Independent

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