Australian pension funds start selling Russian assets following Ukraine invasion

Some Australian financial companies began divesting Russian assets following the Russian invasion of Ukraine. The Australian government on Thursday urged the country’s $2.5 trillion pension sector to reassess its Russian holdings after the invasion.

Additionally, Russia’s invasion of Ukraine prompted several Australian companies to sever ties with Russia by selling assets or shutting down operations.

Australia said on Thursday it “strongly expects” the country’s pension funds, known as superannuation funds, to revise their investment portfolios and divest themselves of all holdings of Russian assets.

Australia’s $150 billion sovereign wealth fund, established in 2006 to benefit future generations, said it planned to reduce its exposure to companies listed in Russia.

Russian assets only represent a very small proportion of Australian pension funds. Nonetheless, Treasury Pensions Minister Jane Hume told the Australian Broadcasting Corp. that cutting those financial ties with Russia would still be important.

“Maybe it’s small in percentage but it’s 3.5 trillion [Australian] dollar industry. Even if you only held half of 1% of your assets in Russia, it could be worth billions of dollars – more than 17 billion [Australian] dollars. It is a significant amount of capital that is invested in Russia,” Hume said.

Australia has also imposed sanctions on Russian oligarchs and politicians, including more than 300 members of the Russian parliament.

Australia has also imposed technology sanctions on Russia, including export bans on goods used in weapons production and oil and gas exploration.

On Tuesday, Australia said it would spend $50 million to buy missiles and ammunition to support Ukraine.