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New Analysis: Top super funds abandoning major fossil gas producers

13 March 2024


Wednesday 13 March: New analysis by Market Forces finds Australia’s top 30 super funds have been reducing their investments in oil and gas producers Woodside and Santos over the past two years, relative to the Australian stock market.

The top 30 super funds have on average reduced their holdings in Woodside by 0.30 percentage points against the company’s weight in the ASX300, according to Market Forces analysis of superannuation mandatory disclosures. This reduction is equivalent to 10 per cent of Woodside’s market share.

The analysis confirms climate wreckers Woodside and Santos are taking up a bigger share of the Australian stock market compared with two years ago.

Yet the biggest super funds are going cold on Australia’s biggest oil and gas companies by dedicating on average a decreasing share of their members’ investments to them, relative to the companies’ size in the share market.

Brett Morgan, Superannuation Funds Campaigner, Market Forces, said:

“Australia’s largest super funds are turning their backs on Woodside and Santos as more members demand greater climate action.

“Super funds must demand and deliver an end to Woodside and Santos’ oil and gas expansion plans and publicly divest if they fail to comply.”

The top three funds with the highest investment exposure to Woodside, compared with the ASX300 benchmark as of 30 June 2023, are:

  • AustralianSuper’s Balanced option: 1.69% above the benchmark weight
  • ESSSuper’s Growth option: 1.47% above the benchmark weight
  • AMP’s MySuper 1970s option: 0.65% above the benchmark weight

The top three funds with the highest investment exposure to Santos, compared with the ASX300 benchmark, as of 30 June 2023 are:

  • ESSSuper’s Growth option: 3.05% above the benchmark weight
  • Hostplus’ Balanced option: 1.64% above the benchmark weight
  • Equipsuper’s MySuper option: 1.41% above the benchmark weight

For the first time, Market Forces can also reveal that Australia’s top 30 super funds are all committed to ‘active ownership’ as a strategy for addressing environmental, social and governance (ESG) issues, including climate risk. A total of 29 of the 30 funds acknowledge climate change as a significant risk and / or have set an emissions reduction target.

Yet while some funds have increased pressure on Woodside and Santos through their share voting behaviour, others are failing to do so, including AustralianSuper, Brighter Super, Hostplus, IOOF and Qantas Super.

“Australian super funds have a crucial opportunity in April to vote against the re-election of directors at Santos and Woodside and their remuneration arrangements, and must take this opportunity or face scrutiny for greenwashing.

“Super funds must stop the greenwash and ramp up pressure on Santos and Woodside, which are steaming ahead with new oil and gas projects out of step with a safe climate.

“A groundswell of members want to see their super fund sparing no effort to end Santos and Woodside’s oil and gas expansion plans, and divesting if these companies fail to step into line.”

For media inquiries and interviews, contact:
Antony Balmain, +61-423-253-477, [email protected]

Note for reporters and editors:

Market Forces analysed the portfolio holdings disclosures of the default investment options of Australia’s top 30 super funds, effective as at the following four dates: 31 December 2021, 30 June 2022, 31 December 2022, 30 June 2023.

Investment exposure to Woodside and Santos is measured as a proportion of each fund’s default investment option’s Australian listed equities, relative to Woodside and Santos’ weights in the ASX300 index.

All 30 funds were provided with this full analysis ahead of publication and provided the opportunity to engage with and respond to any findings.