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Samsung's key insurance affiliates pledge to halt coal investments

FILE PHOTO: The logo of Samsung Electronics is seen at its office building in Seoul, South Korea, July 4, 2017. REUTERS/Kim Hong-Ji/File Photo

SEOUL (Reuters) - Key insurance affiliates of South Korea’s biggest conglomerate Samsung Group on Thursday pledged to step up their ‘coal-free’ policies by banning investments in the coal industry, following a global move towards a low-carbon economy.

Samsung Fire & Marine Insurance Co Ltd, Samsung Life Insurance Co Ltd and other financial units said in a statement they will no longer make new investments in coal power-related businesses and will not invest in corporate bonds issued for the purpose of building coal-fired power plants going forward.

“We decided to strengthen our coal-free policies in order to protect the environment and strengthen our social responsibilities,” a Samsung official said.

Other units Samsung Securities Co Ltd and Samsung Asset Management will establish guidelines for investment, including the exclusion of investments in coal mining and coal power generation projects, and will apply them to their businesses starting from December, the statement added.

The financial units plan to expand investments in renewable energy, electric vehicles and other eco-friendly assets.

Lee Ji-eon, an activist at the Korea Federation for Environmental Movements, said he welcomed the move and called for other companies’ participation, but added details and specific implementation plans should be revealed.

Separately, Samsung C&T Corp in late October said its board decided to halt any new coal-related investments, constructions and trading projects.

Chip giant Samsung Electronics in its third-quarter earnings conference call also said it will continue to make efforts for its sustainability management in environmental and social issues.

Editing by Elaine Hardcastle