One of Europe’s largest foundations, Portugal’s Calouste Gulbenkian Foundation, has announced that it is selling its energy holding, Partex, for $622 million, to Thai business, PTT Exploration and Production Public Company Limited (PTTEP). The move follows the Foundation being the subject of criticism for its support of marine conservation programmes, such as its Oceans Initiative, while profiting from a fossil fuel company.
Although the agreement was announced in June 2019, Gulbenkian’s decision to sell Partex appears to have been taken over a year ago. A headline in the Algarve Daily News in February 2018 stated ‘Gulbenkian Foundation gets out of the oil business.’ The accompanying article quotes a Foundation spokesperson saying that the Foundation ‘has been considering the sale of investments in fossil fuels, taking into account a new energy matrix and its objectives for sustainability, in line with the international movement followed by other foundations.’
One approach which appears to have been ruled out by the philanthropic organisation was to keep the oil but make a public commitment not to drill it.
In her announcement of the sale, Foundation President Isabel Mota commented: ‘the reconfiguration of the Foundation’s financial portfolio and investments will reinforce its diversification, social and environmental impact and alignment with the philanthropic nature of the Foundation’s activities.’
The transaction is expected to be finalised by the end of 2019.