The State of New York has divested from 353,000 shares of Talisman Energy. According to state officials in the Controller’s Office, the largest American public institutional shareholder of Talisman (prior to divestment) has now joined numerous others in refusing to own equity in the oil-driven destruction of Sudan.
Eric Reeves [April 4, 2001]
Northampton, MA 01063
The list of public American institutional shareholders that have divested from Talisman Energy continues to grow, indeed is now virtually complete: in addition to the State of New York (353,000 shares), divestments have occurred in the State of New Jersey (700,000 shares); the California Public Employees Retirement System (300,000 shares); Texas Teachers Retirement System (100,000 shares); the City of New York (186,000 shares); TIAA-CREF (retirement vehicle for American higher education and the largest private pension plan in the world, 300,000 shares).
In addition, there have been divestment sales or decisions by the Presbyterian Church USA, Vanguard Mutual Funds, Manning & Napier Investments. Other major church denominations are on the verge of divesting.
As a consequence, the focus of the divestment campaign is increasingly upon the very large private institutional shareholders of Talisman Energy: Fidelity Investments in the US, Royal Bank in Canada. Fidelity Investments in particular is now confronting the potent and growing resources of the campaign. The American Anti-Slavery Group has made Fidelity the focus for the next stage in its vigorous and ongoing divestment efforts. With over 5 million shares of Talisman, and a carefully cultivated public image, Fidelity is both a highly significant and highly vulnerable shareholder.
What will win out? The desire not to seem to yield to divestment pressures? Or the dawning knowledge that divestment pressures will never end, and that a sale now will forestall future bad publicity—bad publicity that will only get uglier and uglier as Sudan and the role of oil development in civil destruction continue to gain in profile?
Fidelity has already been highlighted by The Boston Globe (March 26, 2001); it was the subject of a press release by the American Anti-Slavery Group yesterday; and it has received huge numbers of letters, some of which convey the blunt news that investors are taking their funds elsewhere. This is not what Fidelity management wants; the only question is when they make the divestment sale that ends their painful predicament.