Some of the world's biggest institutional investors, including CalPERS and the New York State Common Retirement Fund, were raising their investment stakes during the second quarter in Transocean Ltd., the offshore drilling contractor implicated in the Deepwater Gulf of Mexico oil spill crisis, despite the launch of a criminal investigation into the disaster by the U.S. Department of Justice.
The two U.S. pension funds, along with the Korea Investment Corp., bought shares in Transocean during the second quarter, according to Securities and Exchange Commission filings.
Other major institutional investors — notably the Ontario Municipal Employees' Retirement System, the Ontario Teachers' Pension Plan, public funds in Colorado and Texas as well as Singapore's state investor Temasek — initiated shareholdings in Transocean during the quarter.
However, other institutional investors such as the Canadian Pension Plan Investment Board, the Employees Retirement System of Texas, the retirement plan of International Business Machines Corp., Ohio's public employee and teachers retirement systems, Kentucky Teachers and TIAA-CREF all cut stakes in Transocean, according to the filings.
The U.S. Department of Justice investigation into Deepwater was launched on June 1.
The asset owners' 13F SEC filings shine a rare light on institutional investor movements as the Deepwater oil spill came closer to being capped following one of the world's largest oil-related environmental disasters. Among a slew of other legal proceedings, the State of Alabama is also currently suing BP PLC and Transocean for their involvement in the huge spill. Transocean says it is carrying out an internal investigation into the Deepwater platform blowout, while BP has set aside $20 billion in a damages contingency fund.
U.S.-listed but Swiss domiciled Transocean was overshadowed by the intense spotlight on BP, but there were still significant shifts by investors during the crisis period. Transocean shares had been as high as $92 before the accident but fell to lows of $42 in mid-June, although they have since recovered. Earlier this month, Swiss authorities blocked a planned $1 billion dividend to investors pending litigation related to the oil spill.
For a PDF detailing the shift in Transocean holdings by institutional investors go to http://www.responsible-investor.com/images/uploads/Transocean.pdf.