SAN FRANCISCO — At least $6.2 billion in shares of companies tied to Sudan is targeted for divestment by institutional investors so far as grassroots pressure increases to pull out money tied to the war-torn state.
That number could swell, however, if funds such as the $208.3 billion California Public Employees' Retirement System, Sacramento, enter the divestment camp. The fund has identified $1.5 billion in Sudan-linked holdings, but has not yet made a decision to unload them.
The divestment movement — which began when the $25.9 billion Harvard Management Co., Boston, announced its decision to sell more than 67,000 shares of PetroChina Co. Ltd. in April 2005 — has become a way for investors to oppose the Sudan government's mass killings of civilians in the Darfur region.
There is no official list of "forbidden companies," but pension funds in Illinois, New Jersey and Oregon are actively divesting, working with money managers and third-party research firms to identify Sudan-linked assets. Meanwhile, retirement plans in cities such as Providence, R.I., as well as endowments, are selling off investments, too.
Here is a look at the selling so far:
• The $36.4 billion Teachers' Retirement System of Illinois, Springfield, divested $2.4 billion from U.S. and non-U.S. equity index funds, said Eva Goltermann, public information officer. The system still needs to divest another 41 securities, representing nearly $900 million, she said.
• The $73 billion New Jersey Division of Investment, Trenton, plans to divest $2.1 billion in shares of 17 companies that do business in Sudan. It has sold $850 million so far, and will complete the remainder of the selling by midsummer — two years ahead of the deadline laid out in the state's divestment legislation. Tom Vincz, treasury spokesman, did not specify which companies' shares would be sold.
• Oregon Investment Council, Tigard, which oversees the $57 billion Oregon Public Employees Retirement Fund, Salem, is divesting $35 million worth of shares of PetroChina Co. Ltd., Sinopec Corp., ABB Ltd. and Tafnet OAO.
• The $310 million Providence Employees Retirement System has sold $800,000 worth of shares in Alcatel SA.
• The $145 billion California State Teachers Retirement System, Sacramento, will sell approximately $11.5 million worth of stock in three companies doing business in Sudan. As of Feb. 28, the system had 21,500 shares of Sinopec, nearly 8.9 million shares in PetroChina and 3,100 shares in Taftnet OAO.
CalPERS will include an item about Sudan on the agenda for its May 15 investment committee meeting, spokesman Clark McKinley said in an e-mail. He noted it is premature to say what action the board may take. Investment staff, working with a coalition of other public pension plans, identified five companies with operations in Sudan that are included in the system's passive index funds: ABB; Siemens AG; Alcatel; Royal Dutch Shell Group; and Total SA. The value of those holdings is $1.5 billion as of April 24, Mr. McKinley said. Royal Dutch Shell holdings comprise the biggest piece, representing 18.2 million shares worth $657.3 million.