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Swedish bank quarantines Facebook investments at its sustainable funds unit

Swedish bank Nordea Bank AB (publ) will not let its sustainable funds unit buy additional stock in Facebook Inc., the head of its sustainable finance group said March 21, citing growing public and political scrutiny of the social media company following recent revelations that Facebook user information was mishandled by data analytics firm Cambridge Analytica LLC.

"Given the high-level revelations and the turmoil surrounding the company with a strong public backlash, coupled with the overhanging threat of increasing regulation of the platforms and the EU GDPR on the horizon, we choose to quarantine Facebook," Nordea's head of sustainable finance, Sasja Beslik, wrote in a tweet.

As of Dec. 31, 2017, Nordea Bank unit Nordea Investment Management AB owned about a 0.09% stake in Facebook, or 2,474,486 shares.

While Facebook stressed that the data was originally volunteered by users to an app and the problem involved improper storing and sharing of the data rather than a breach, the company's stock has tumbled since the disclosure, losing 9% of its value since the close of March 16, when Facebook announced that Cambridge Analytica and related accounts had been suspended from its platform. Facebook's stock continued to fall in early trading March 21.

Separately, Cambridge Analytica said March 20 that its board had suspended CEO Alexander Nix after a British news channel aired secretly recorded footage of Nix describing potential blackmail or bribery schemes that could be deployed in political campaigns. In a statement, the company's board said the comments "do not represent the values or operations of the firm and his suspension reflects the seriousness with which we view this violation."