Watching the World: Investors Target Sudan

Source:

"We will join to urge companies operating in Sudan to confront human rights abuses."

If India and China thought their oil and gas industries would have favored status around the world, they were mistaken. That was underlined when investment fund TIAA-CREF sold investments from Chinese and Indian companies operating in Sudan's upstream.

"Our decision to sell shares in these companies culminated a 3-year effort to encourage them to end their ties to Sudan or attempt to end suffering there," said Roger W. Ferguson Jr., TIAA-CREF chief executive.

TIAA-CREF reminded investors of plans it announced last March to intensify pressure on five companies that maintain business relations with the government of Sudan to "cease those relations or attempt to ease suffering and end genocide in Darfur."

TIAA-CREF said it would seek meetings with target companies. . .and would divest by yearend 2009 from those that refused to acknowledge the genocide and engage in a productive dialogue about how to confront it.

In particular, TIAA-CREF expressed the belief that members of society have a moral responsibility to confront genocide and crimes against humanity, and said it was "publicly asking companies operating in Sudan to help alleviate the suffering of its people."

With that in mind, TIAA-CREF said it would:
  • Seek meetings between TIAA-CREF executives and executives of target companies to encourage them to take positive and meaningful humanitarian steps and attempt to end genocide.

  • Publicly endorse the UN-sponsored Principles for Responsible Investment. Signatories include institutional investors with a combined $2.5 trillion in assets under management with whom "we will join to urge companies operating in Sudan to confront human rights abuses."

  • Call upon other financial services companies to "follow our lead and increase pressure on target companies."
"We will evaluate progress within 9 months and, if we still hold positions in these companies at that time, we will divest their shares from all accounts if milestones showing significant progress are not achieved, and announce that decision publicly," TIAA-CREF said.

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