Though Russian vodka is being taken off Albertan shelves, and Premier Jason Kenney is actively lobbying for energy sanctions against Russia, the province’s investment arm AIMCo owns millions of dollars of Russian assets through an exchange traded fund (ETF) called the VanEck Vectors Russia ETF, recent Security Exchange Commission disclosures show.
AIMCo is the crown corporation responsible for managing Alberta’s pension funds and various government funds like the Alberta Heritage Fund.
“AIMCo holding Russian assets is quite concerning. Institutions like AIMCo should have a plan to divest here,” Greg Meeker, former board chair of the ATRF and a frequent commentator on pensions in Alberta, told the Progress Report
AIMCo owns 500,000 shares of the Russian fund, which according to its profile “seeks to replicate as closely as possible, before fees and expenses, the price and yield performance of the MVIS Russia Index, which includes publicly traded companies that are incorporated in Russia or that are incorporated outside of Russia but has at least 50% of their revenues/related assets in Russia.”
This disclosure was published on February 11, 2022 and the information in it is accurate as of Dec. 31, 2021.
The fund’s three largest holdings are Gazprom, Sberbank and Lukoil. The fund also has holdings in Tatneft, a Russian based oil and gas company with holdings in Syria, as well as Evraz, a steelmaking company that is manufacturing most of the pipe for the TransMountain pipeline expansion.
It’s unknown whether AIMCo has further Russian holdings as AIMCo does not proactively disclose their holdings and their private equity partners unlike the Canadian Pension Plan.
“Since AIMCo doesn’t disclose their assets we’re reduced to asking them or sifting through regulatory disclosures. All of their holdings should be transparent and who their private equity partners are should be transparent as well,” says Meeker.
AIMCo’s holdings in the VanEck Vectors Russia ETF were worth $13.3 million or $26.66 a share on Dec. 31, 2021. As of publication those holdings are worth $5.425 million or 10.85 a share, a drop of nearly 60 per cent.
This stock chart of VanEck Vectors Russia ETF shows the price of the ETC for the past 3 months. Via Yahoo Finance.
AIMCo did not respond to inquiries. The ministry of finance also did not respond to inquiries.
UPDATE: AIMCo CEO Evan Siddall has announced on social media that AIMCo will be divesting from its Russian holdings. The announcement came an hour after the Progress Report published this story.