Amherst College, Amherst, Mass., asked the money managers for its $1.1 billion endowment fund to divest 19 multinational companies doing business in Sudan, according to a statement by the school's board of trustees. A small number of the managers have limited holdings through pooled or commingled investment funds in some of the companies, said Paul Statt, spokesman. A list of the managers wasn't available.
Managers that do not divest will not be terminated, but fund officials hope to build support from other endowments, as well as foundations and pension funds, to persuade its managers to divest, Mr. Statt said.
Amherst primarily used Institutional Shareholder Services to assist in the screening of the Sudan companies.
The board rejected "a broad divestment from all companies doing business in Sudan," the statement said. Instead, it will target for divestment specific companies in the oil and gas, energy and telecommunications industries. The endowment doesn't want to divest companies providing food, pharmaceuticals or other necessities to the Sudanese people, Mr. Statt added.
Trustees also voted to ban any direct holdings in companies identified as doing business in Sudan, although the endowment doesn't currently hold any such direct investments, he said. The companies are: ABB Ltd., Alcatel SA, Alstom SA, China National Offshore Oil Corp., China National Petroleum Corp., China Petroleum and Chemical Corp., Harbin Power Equipment Co., Lundin International SA, Nam Fatt Co., Oil & Natural Gas Co. (Arakis Energy and ONGC Videsh Ltd.), Royal Dutch Shell PLC, Schlumberger Ltd., Siemens AG, Sumatec Resources Bhd. (IROilRigs International Ltd.), Tatneft, Ericsson LM Telephone Co. and Videocon Industries Ltd.
Joseph Stiglitz, a Nobel prize-winning economist and a trustee, said in statement about the vote: "I see little or no development benefit to investment, but I do see enormous human and economic costs."