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‘abrdoomed’: Edinburgh-based investment firm abrdn rebranded due to scrutiny over coal investments

  • Campaigners rebrand investment firm abrdn to abrdoomed with signs, golf umbrellas and spoof website to call out the company’s toxic relationship with coal industry
  • abrdn has no policy to stop new, or phase out existing, investments in coal, oil or gas. Currently, the asset manager holds over $990 million in coal bonds and $2.6 billion in oil and gas bonds.

Campaigners have rebranded the investment giant abrdn as ‘abrdoomed’, to expose the firm’s continued financing of coal expansion and call on the asset manager to deny debt to coal companies.

Coal is one of the leading causes of climate change, and climate scientists say there must be no new investments in coal mines and coal-fired power plants to achieve global net-zero emissions by 2050. Yet abrdn has no policy to stop new, or phase out existing, investments in coal. It is one of the few European asset managers without a coal exclusion policy, falling behind its competitors such as Amunidi, DWS, Natixis and Ostrum.

In 2021, following the merger between Standard Life and Aberdeen Asset Management, Standard Life Aberdeen rebranded to ‘abrdn’ to become a more ‘modern, agile, digitally-enabled brand’. The rebrand faced widespread ridicule, with some calling the attempt to appeal to younger generations ‘skin deep’ and ‘full of risk’. Since the rebrand, abrdn has grappled with financial challenges and reportedly aggressive behaviour by its CEO Stephen Bird, with many now calling for the dis-emvoweled group to break up.

Today, campaigners have given abrdn a new brand more fitting to its trajectory if it continues investing in coal: abrdoomed. Outside the company’s headquarters in Edinburgh, campaigners are announcing the rebrand to employees and the public with an ‘abrdoomed’ billboard and golf umbrellas bearing the same name.

Currently, abrdn holds over $3.6 billion in bonds of companies expanding coal ($994 mill), oil and gas ($2.6 bill) with over 50% of its coal bonds due to mature after 2030. Campaigners are calling on abrdn to immediately deny new debt to companies expanding fossil fuel projects and divest existing bond holdings, including in passive funds, from fossil fuel companies that do not have adequate phase out plans in line with 1.5C. They’re urging staff and passers-by to notice the contrast between what the company says and what they do, exposing abrdn for prioritising ‘image over substance’, touting its sustainable efforts while investing billions in fossil fuel expansion.

“abrdn must immediately deny debt to coal or it’s abrdoomed. If abrdn persists in its investments in coal expansion, it’s not just doubling down on its bad financial situation; it’s actively steering its course towards disaster. This raises serious concerns about whether the company is truly looking out for the best interests of its shareholders and clients. It’s not fooling anyone with its ‘image over substance’ approach to sustainability, we see behind the smoke and mirrors of its positive PR spin. The company needs to give their coal bonds the vowel treatment, and ditch them.”
– Oli Goulden from the Toxic Bonds Network

abrdn continues to millions of pounds in bonds issued by Adani Group companies despite revelations of its fraud, corruption and coal expansion. The Hindenburg Report initially laid bare Adani’s “brazen stock manipulation and accounting fraud,” and new damning evidence from OCCPR validates these claims and unveils a labyrinthine web of stock manipulation and illegal financial manoeuvres. This all comes amidst Adani’s fundraising efforts for billions in the bond market this financial year, including refinancing of at least $2 billion in USD bonds due to mature in 2024.

“While mounting evidence has exposed Adani’s criminal behaviour, abrdn’s silence on its investment in this corrupt coal conglomerate is deafening. abrdn’s continued investment in Adani not only threatens its credibility but also raises the spectre of complicity in Adani’s deceit and criminal actions. To break free from this shadow, abrdn must take a clear stand by publicly denying new debt to all Adani Group entities, particularly ahead of its upcoming bond issuance,”
– Camilla Schramek, Coordinator of the Toxic Bonds Network

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