Eric Reeves, 2 April 2002 •
In a front-page and highlighted article in the business section of today’s Christian Science Monitor (April 22, 2002), Talisman Energy is again noted prominently for its Sudan connection in an article entitled “Spotting links to Terrorism, Inc.” Focussing on a new investment screening tool for institutional managers, the article asks pointedly, “Does your portfolio ‘support’ terrorism?” Inevitably, Talisman’s partnership with Khartoum’s National Islamic Front regime features prominently in the analysis. As more and more institutional investors screen for links to terrorism and national security issues, Talisman’s name will continue to be “red-flagged.” The new investor product discussed by the Christian Science Monitor (“Global Security Risk Monitor”) is due to be released at the end of this month.
Eric Reeves [April 22, 2002]
Northampton, MA 01063
The Christian Science Monitor article (available upon request) devotes four full paragraphs to Talisman Energy in connection with the investor screening tool soon to be offered by a socially responsible investors group. Made up of Investor Responsibility Research Center (IRRC), along with the Conflict Securities Advisory Group (CSAG), the group recently announced it has compiled a list of nearly 300 firms with connections to terrorism, direct or indirect. It should be noted that IRRC is perhaps the most distinguished and venerable organization in the field of investor responsibility research.
Though Talisman Energy has some company in this discussion (e.g., Renault of France, Volvo of Sweden), the Canadian oil company receives the most attention. In identifying the sources of risk, the IRRC and CSAG have, as the Monitor suggests, “tak[en] a cautious approach, using the State Department’s roster of regimes involved in state-supported terrorism and the US Defense Department’s report on countries involved in weapons of mass destruction and ballistic-missile programs.” But this, of course, is enough to catch Talisman in the net of companies doing business with terrorist sponsoring regimes. Indeed, Talisman is sending massive oil revenues to the Khartoum regime that remains on the State Department’s very short list of state sponsors of international terrorism.
Though better known for its support of Khartoum in the regime’s state-conducted terrorism directed against the people of southern Sudan, Talisman will now gain a good deal of additional notoriety as the use of this investment screening tool becomes more common. As the Monitor concludes in its article:
“Initial interest looks promising. ‘Definitely, our clients don’t want to be inadvertently linked with countries the US sanctions,’ says Shelley Alpern, director of social research and advocacy at Trillium Asset Management, a socially responsible investment firm in Boston.”
And once the “Global Security Risk Monitor” (the name of the investor screening tool) becomes commonly available at the end of April, it will soon be required reading for all who wish to take account of investors’ desires to be fully apprised not only of the financial risks associated with terrorist-related investments, but also of the moral dimensions of their investments as well.
As the Monitor quotes Linda Crompton, IRRC’s president, as saying: “‘We believe terrorism and weapons proliferation merit investor attention now more than ever. There can be enormous negative publicity.'”
Notably, in addition to Talisman’s association with a regime that sponsors international terrorism, the Monitor also highlights the risks to reputation that come from Talisman’s complicity in the scorched-earth clearances of the oil regions of southern Sudan:
“[Talisman] is fighting a new threat to its reputation. A group of Sudanese have filed suit in a New York district court alleging that the company urged the government to clear villagers from its oil properties in a military operation. The group has even produced a document—from the government, it alleges—ordering various military actions to be carried out ‘fulfilling the request of the Canadian company.’ The company denies the allegations and vows to defend itself. Nevertheless, the allegations may have already hurt Talisman’s reputation.”
A message that should long ago have been obvious to all Talisman investors is about to become a good deal clearer: remaining in Sudan will continue to hurt share price badly (the article mentions yet again the “Sudan discount” affecting Talisman trading)—and slowly destroy the reputation of this morally bankrupt company.