NEW YORK CITY DIVESTS FROM ALL SHARES OF TALISMAN ENERGY—IN ALL ACCOUNTS
Eric Reeves [September 14, 2000]
Smith College 413-585-3326
Northampton, MA 01063
After months of relentless divestment pressure, all 186,000 shares of Talisman Energy in the pension plan accounts of New York City have been sold! This dramatic divestment comes in the immediate wake of New York City Comptroller Alan Hevesi’s impassioned speech on Sudan before a crowd of thousands in New York City’s UN Plaza on September 9, 2000.
At an event organized by Highland Church, Hevesi invoked his own terrible family losses in the Holocaust in speaking about Sudan’s present agony. The future mayor of New York spoke eloquently of Sudan’s horror before a remarkable gathering of church groups—a great many with African American congregations and pastors—human rights activists, a former Sudanese slave, and others passionately concerned about the fate of Sudan.
In a letter sent to Talisman’s CEO Jim Buckee one year ago (September 27, 1999) Hevesi spoke pointedly about Talisman’s obvious culpability in Sudan, and about the nascent divestment campaign:
“I believe a company that is doing business in a country under a repressive regime must not provide financing or other resources for the perpetuation of wrongdoing or atrocities. As long-term investors, we believe a company that is cavalier about its moral and social responsibility presents an unacceptable investment risk. The expanding divestment campaign against Talisman Energy for alleged complicity in the horrors in Sudan is just one indication of that risk.”
As of September 14, 2000, Alan Hevesi has made good on these strong words. New York City has divested from all 186,000 of its Talisman shares, sending the clearest possible signal that divestment efforts will pursue Talisman for as long as it is in Sudan.
And there are other developments as well: an aggressive, well-organized campaign of pressure upon large American mutual fund shareholders of Talisman shares has been launched, and with the publicity from the New York City divestment (in the media capital of the world) there will be a huge boost to these efforts.
Further, in a letter printed in today’s Christian Science Monitor, Elliot Abrams, incoming Chairman of the US Commission for International Religious Freedom (USCIRF), reiterated the commission’s recommendation of capital market sanctions for companies engaged in Sudan’s oil project. The USCIRF was created by an act of Congress, with a mandate to advise both the President and the Congress on policies that define the US response to countries in which there is significant religious persecution. Sudan has been made a country of focussed concern by the Commission.
This is but one example of the ways in which capital market sanctions against Talisman (i.e., de-listing from the New York Stock Exchange) continue to be explored in Washington. Expect to hear more soon.