New Jersey’s $68.9 billion public pension fund earned a $5.5 million profit from its investment in BP PLC, selling about half of its holdings before an April 20 explosion at the British oil giant’s offshore well in the Gulf of Mexico caused a massive and continuing oil spill.
Andrew Pratt, communications director for the New Jersey Department of Treasury, said the department’s Division of Investment, Trenton, which manages investments for seven public retirements systems within the state pension fund, began selling BP shares in early January and completely ended its ownership of BP stock by May 11.
The pension system bought BP shares over several years, ending in September 2009, he said in an interview. With a cost basis of just under $460 million and total share sales amounting to about $465 million, the pension system earned about $5.5 million.
“We felt oil prices would be volatile or would fall,” Mr. Pratt said. “We felt BP had reached a peak and that it was time to cash in some of our gains.”
After its last BP stock purchase in September 2009, the pension system held 51.94 million shares of BP that were traded on the London Stock Exchange and whose share price differs from the price of the company’s American depositary shares traded on the New York Stock Exchange.
Between mid-January and April 9, New Jersey had sold about half of its shares, Mr. Pratt said. It sold the rest of the shares at several times after the oil well explosion.
Mr. Pratt said the New Jersey state pension fund still owns $45 million in BP corporate bonds.