State Retirement Funds Divest From Sudan

Indiana‘s pension funds have begun unloading nearly $16 million in investments in two companies which do business in Sudan.

Indiana Statehouse

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The state is working to divest itself from companies which do business in countries labeled as state sponsors of terrorism.

Sudan’s human rights violations prompted legislators in 2007 to prohibit pension-fund investments in companies doing business there.

Indiana Public Retirement System Executive Director Steve Russo says three companies were dropped from Indiana’s watchlist after the fund contacted them in February, but the state is in the process of shedding investments in mining-equipment company Atlas Copco and the natural gas and diesel engineering firm Wartsila OYJ. Russo says the funds spend about $100,000 a year on a consultant to cross-check Indiana’s investments against a list of companies doing business in Sudan, Iran, Syria or Cuba.

“It’s very hard for us to go back and say, ‘if we hadn’t had to have divested from that company, would the funds have been better off or not?,” Russo says. “Its almost impossible to go back and do that research.”

The law requires Indiana to be rid of half those investments by next month, and the rest by mid-May. About $55 million invested in eight more companies, most of them energy firms, run afoul of a similar ban passed in 2009 on companies doing business with Iran and Syria. The state department lists those countries, along with Cuba and Sudan, as state sponsors of terrorism.

The law gives INPRS three years to start that divestment process, and five years to complete it.

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