US - Illinois pension funds, which have been given 18 months to withdraw all their holdings from companies with interests in Sudan, are questioning the use of a third party screening system with links to a divestment campaign group.
There are currently two Illinois pension funds, which between them have around US$1bn invested in 32 companies in Sudan. Governor Rod R. Blagojevich of Illinois signed a bill requiring state pension funds to divest from these companies on 25 June.
The Teachers Retirement System of the State of Illinois (TRS) said while it agreed with “the principle, the idea and the goal of the legislation,” it had issues with the implementation. Nick Yelverton, director of government affairs at TRS, said it would be working on a follow-up bill to work through some of the issues. Yelverton said as far as he knew there was only one firm, Conflict Security Advisory Group (CSAG), which was well enough established to provide the third party role required by the new state law. However, he claimed the firm also acted as an umbrella for divestment groups. He said: “We don’t know which companies are on the list or even why they are on it.”
Yelverton’s claims were rejected by Adam Pener, chief operating officer for CSAG. CSAG’s offices are situated next door to a divestment campaign group. “We were contracted by one entity that runs a web site called divestterror.com to run the portfolio of public pension systems,” he said. However, he claimed that if the pension systems wished to hire him to provide data for a counter argument, “then I would do that as well.”
Jeannine Raymond, director of federal relations, at the National Association of State Retirement Associations, called for caution when it came to divestment. She said: “In some cases divestment could do more harm then good.”
Fidelity International has created global retirement savings guidelines to help employers and employees understand how much is needed to save for retirement, writes Kim Kaveh.
The Local Authority Pension Fund Forum (LAPFF) has announced the sudden death of its chairman, Ian Greenwood, on Monday (12 November) night at age 68.
Jonathan Stapleton wonders whether we need a thorough review of the principles for institutional investment decision-making