TIAA-CREF Drops Investments over Sudan Ties

TIAA-CREF announced it has kept its holdings in only one of five companies it targeted last year for potential divestment over their business relations with the government of Sudan.
The company said when it released the initial list in March 2009 that it would try to meet with the five target companies to convince them to either end those ties or to otherwise try to improve conditions in Darfur (see “TIAA-CREF Steps Up Efforts in Sudan Divestment“). TIAA-CREF set year-end as the deadline for action by the targeted firms.

After meeting with each of the companies, TIAA-CREF said it determined there was insufficient progress to warrant continued dialogue with PetroChina; CNPC Hong Kong, Oil and Natural Gas Corporation; and Sinopec. TIAA-CREF sold its holdings in those four companies as of December 31, 2009, according to a news release.

“Our decision to sell shares in these companies culminated a three-year effort to encourage them to end their ties to Sudan or attempt to end suffering there,” said Roger W. Ferguson, Jr., TIAA-CREF’s chief executive. “We have not divested from PETRONAS, which has acknowledged our concerns and engaged in dialogue about how it might address them.”

TIAA-CREF said its process leading to divestment included a judgment about the gravity of TIAA-CREF’s concerns in Sudan, the likelihood of successful dialogue with target companies, and a conclusion that divestment would have an insignificant impact on the financial performance of participants’ portfolios.