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Lars Pehrson
Merkur Founder and CEO

Is investing with foresight still viable in the midst of the Financial Crisis?  (May 2009)

The world has been experiencing unparalleled financial turmoil in which large parts of stock fortunes, accumulated during the upturn, have been wiped out. 
In this type of business environment, it is only natural that private, as well as corporate investors, are more cautious and hesitant of re-entering the market.
Simultaneously, the financial crisis has given rise to a new awareness in many people of how important it is that investments are connected with real life, aiming to provide for real needs in society. The speculative dimension of the financial economy, characterized by the aspiration of cashing in quick profits through the use of opaque financial instruments, has suffered a fundamental confidence blow.

Merkur has throughout its 26-year existence conducted its banking business based on the bedrock principle of sustainability. Our banking business has always been in touch with the real world. Ecology, renewable energy, social responsibility and cultural diversity are all inherent traits in the companies and institutions which we help finance.

Transparency and sustainability are features we wish to make available to Danish investors, since investing is still very much possible. Not least the climate challenge and social challenges in developing countries offer opportunities for investments to meet real needs while simultaneously earning fair, long-term returns.

Micro-Loans and Renewable Energy

In cooperation with Triodos, one of Europe’s largest financial institutions in the area of sustainable financing, we are able to offer two unique products to Danish investors:

• Triodos Renewables Europe Fund, a fund that invests in the production of renewable energy.
• Triodos Microfinance Fund, a fund that invests in a number of the best institutions for microfinance.

Both of these investment opportunities are not directly influenced by the turmoil taking place in world stock markets, and can be used for personal retirement savings. Why not let part of your pension savings provide working capital for sustainable energy projects and the fight against poverty?

Investing in Society's Sustainable Development

Merkur provides two other investment opportunities, which are not directly impacted by the turmoil in stock markets, but whose value is fixed solely according to actual performance.

One option is to invest in cooperative share certificates in Merkur. As a shareholder in Merkur you provide the foundation for Merkur’s business activities. For each DKK 1,000 invested, Merkur is able to lend up to DKK 12,000 to sustainable companies and social and cultural institutions.  

The other option is to invest in Merkur Development Loans Ltd., a new joint initiative undertaken by Merkur and the Danish Industrialisation Fund for Developing Countries. Merkur development Loans Ltd. is issuing shares during the first half of 2009 in order to provide loans on fair terms to small businesses and cooperatives in developing countries – and at the same time provide a possibility for a fair return to you. So, this answers our original question in the positive. It is possible to invest with foresight in the midst of the financial crisis.

Lars Pehrson, CEO, Merkur Cooperative Bank

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