US - The Florida State Board of Administration (FSBA), which runs the $100bn Florida Retirement System (FRS), is looking to overturn the ban that prevents it from investing in Northern Ireland.
Tom Herndon, executive director of the FSBA, said that it plans to the state legislature to lift the investment restrictions as it was now superfluous. The ban, which was enacted in 1988, stated that the FSBA was not allowed to invest in companies that practised religious discrimination. Herndon said that it was now time to get the ban lifted as an awful lot has changed since then, and that discrimination was no longer practised by companies in the region.
Despite the desire to have the investment restriction lifted, Herndon was quick to add that the FSBA was by no means taking sides in the region. According to Herndon, the removal of the policy barring the FSBA from investing in Northern Island is simply a matter of removing an outdated restriction.
Additionally, Herndon said that the next step for the FSBA would be to look at getting the restriction on investing in Cuba lifted. However, Herndon said that although the FSBA would like to see the ban removed, he thought that it was unlikely to happen.
News that the FSBA is looking to overturn the restrictions on investing in Northern Ireland follows the successful removal of the ban which had prevented it from investing in tobacco stocks. At the time, Herndon said that the tobacco ban limits investment opportunities, causing misfit which has a negative impact on investment performance.
The ban on investing in tobacco companies was adopted in 1997 by Florida's then Governor Lawton Chiles. At the time, the state was involved in a lawsuit against tobacco companies to recover healthcare costs attributed to smoking. Florida used its settlement money to set up a trust fund to pay for childrens’ and senior citizens’ health programs.
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