This commentary is written by Caroline Porsiel, CEO of Atlanta Bourbon Company. It was inspired by Volker Tietz’s interview with UBS chief investment officer Maximilian Kunkel in the German Focus Magazine “Nachhaltige Geldanlagen: “Firmen werden zur Nachhaltigkeit gezwungen, wenn sie steigende Aktienkurse haben wollen“.
Reading an article about the role woman and millennials play in sustainable investment and why sustainability and returns are not mutual exclusive, surprised me as the chief investment officer of UBS Germany, Maximilian Kunkel stated that “There are sectors that I, as a fund manager, avoid.” and these include “For example, alcohol, pornography, tobacco and defense industry.” The fact that alcohol came first to the UBS banker’s mind to be avoided as a sustainable investment really bothers me. And, not to mention marihuana products did not even make it on the list. So, the question is why is that so? What ranks an investment in alcohol before pornography, tobacco and defense industry – and all that without any hesitations? To me it seems I am facing an old marketing relict of the prohibition movement of the 1920th “’Tis here we pledge perpetual hate to all that can intoxicate.”
Asked, if the “not-to-invest-in-alcohol” requirement applies as well if i.e. a pharmaceutical company (…) owns and operates a winery in Spain, the answer of Maximilian Kunkel is simple “If you implement this strictly, then this stock falls through the grid. But overall, the trend is moving away from the pure exclusion criterion towards integration.” I find it peculiar that there is no comment on the risks investing in pharma industry instead and that again the only risk mentioned is the alcohol producing winery. Really? Legal liability for opioid addictions, pharma product liabilities, counterfeit drugs, global quality control, keeping up with technology, animal testing, and patent cliffs are just a few issues that come to mind thinking of pharma industry. So, following the logic, why is pharma not on the list?
UBS Group is a multinational investment bank located in Switzerland, and ironically, some of the richest people in Switzerland made their money – guess what – with alcohol: Jorge Paulo Lemann (AB Inbev, SABMiller) and Charlene de Carvalho-Heineken (Heineken International). Reading the news about donations for Notre Dame in Paris brings Bernard Arnault to mind, who apparently is the fourth richest man in the world whose wealth includes the distilleries of Ardberg, Glenmorangie, Hennessy, the champagne brands Dom Perignon, Veuve Clicquot, Moet & Chandon just to name a few.
Alcohol has accompanied mankind for thousands of years, it survived famines, wars and economic crises and it can indeed be a sustainable and secure investment. Putting it too fast on a “do-not-invest-list” needs to change. We need to get rid of the last vestiges of prohibition times and rate the risks and potential of craft distilling in an unbiased way. A few weeks ago, someone said to me: I don’t drink alcohol and therefore I don’t invest in alcohol. Well, let me respond to this too, Jorge Lemann does not drink alcohol either, but he is currently on 35th position of the Forbes list of wealthiest people in the world.
Therefore, I am honoring today Mr. Maximilian Kunkel, chief investment officer, UBS Germany for his statements last Friday with our “Temperance Ribbon”, Atlanta, May 2019. Let’s start modernizing beliefs from “Beautiful water my beverage shall be” towards sustainable #CleanDrinking and #BourbonReinheitsgebot instead.
If you would like to nominate a candidate for our “Temperance Ribbon” please write to us firstname.lastname@example.org.
About Atlanta Bourbon Company: Atlanta Bourbon Company is a craft distillery in set-up phase. We have committed to our own Atlanta Bourbon Reinheitsgebot (purity law) to produce super premium quality without any additives – because we do believe the future is clean drinking.
#BourbonReinheitsgebot #CleanDrinking #Temperance #Prohibition #VentureCapital
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:
May 5th, 2019
Atlanta Bourbon Company
Telefon +1 404 771 4332