Transfield Services, facing increasing pressure on its share price over reported human rights issues, wants to take its major investors inside the offshore asylum seeker detention centres it runs on behalf of the federal government.
Some aid agencies and politicians have been allowed inside the centres, but the media has been blocked.
The HESTA industry super fund has sold its 3.5% stake in Transfield Services because of reported human rights violations against asylum seekers at the detention centres.
Transfield has a contract valued at $1.2 billion to run the centres at Manus Island, Papua New Guinea, and Nauru. The contract is due to be renewed at the end of October.
HESTA said in a statement: “A number of independent non-government organisations have found that the mandatory, prolonged, indefinite, and non-reviewable nature of detention at asylum seeker processing centres breaches the fundamental principles of international human rights law.”
Transfield CEO Graeme Hunt says he hopes a new contract with the government will allow investors inside the centres to show the company is meeting its social and governance obligations.
“Some of the people we have engaged with on this issue have told us they feel sorry for us because we are the meat in the sandwich,” he told Fairfax Media.
Allan Gray, the funds management firm and one of Transfield’s largest shareholders, has indicated it would take up an opportunity to visit the centres.
Hunt told an analyst briefing the company’s share price has been hit by media reporting on the immigration contract.
“Transfield Services has a very strong governance framework in place and is committed to the highest standards of probity and transparency in our operations globally,” he said.
“We take our responsibilities to all of our stakeholders including our clients, our investors, the communities in which we operate and the Australian public very seriously.
“In terms of our work in the immigration centers, we see the asylum seekers as stakeholders too. Many of our best people work in these contracts and they do a fantastic job in challenging circumstances.”
Transfield Services shares were up 2.33% to $1.075 on Friday, down from a high of $1.80 in February.
Last week the company announced an 8% fall in full year profit $48.6 million. Revenue was up 2% to $3.797 billion.