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INVESTING/PORTFOLIO STRATEGIES

N.Y. State Common checking portfolio for possible holdings of anti-Israel companies

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Thomas DiNapoli

The New York State Common Retirement Fund, Albany, is reviewing its portfolio to determine if any investments are in companies that are participating in an anti-Israel boycott, divestment and sanctions campaign, Thomas DiNapoli, the state comptroller and sole trustee of the fund, said Wednesday.

“We're putting companies engaged in BDS activities on notice that there will be consequences if their anti-Israel activities expose our investments to financial harm,” Mr. DiNapoli said in a news release. The pension fund has invested approximately $532 million in Israel-based companies among total plan assets of $178.1 billion.

The comptroller “has been concerned” about the BDS campaign since he visited Israel in November and met with executives of some Israeli companies in which the pension fund has invested, Matthew Sweeney, a spokesman for Mr. DiNapoli, said in an interview.

The pension fund's review began in April, said Mr. Sweeney, adding that there is no timetable for completion.

According to the comptroller's news release, companies supporting the BDS campaign might be “added to a restricted list that prohibits investment” by the pension fund.

Earlier this month, New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo issued an executive order telling state agencies to divest public funds from companies and organizations supporting the BDS movement. The executive order, which excluded the New York State Common Retirement Fund, covers agencies and departments over which the governor has executive authority.

Colorado, Indiana and Illinois have enacted laws requiring public pension funds to divest from companies that boycott or place economic sanctions on Israel.

Also, on Monday, the New Jersey Legislature voted by large majorities to prohibit the $70.9 billion New Jersey Pension Fund, Trenton, from investing in a company that boycotts, divests from or sanctions Israel or Israeli business, or boycotts companies operating in Israel or Israel-held territory.