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Thursday, September 20, 2007

Divestment news - Good for a change

Can this start a trend?
Thursday, September 20, 2007 - ?2005
LONDON, September 20 (IranMania) - Florida's public employee retirement fund will divest nearly $1 bln and 300 mln invested with 21 companies doing business in Iran or Sudan, an action state officials hope will be imitated across the nation, The Associated Press (AP) reported.
The State Board of Administration authorized the divestiture Wednesday.
"You will be telling every one of these companies that from this day forward we won't invest another dollar, Florida's public dollars, in those companies," state Sen. Ted Deutch, the law's sponsor, told the board.
At least six other states have similar bans on investing in companies doing business in Sudan but Florida is the first to pass such a law applying to Iran, Deutch said.
The law bars investing pension money in any company doing business in Sudan or in Iran's energy sector because both countries are on the State Department's list of terror-sponsoring nations.
Iran is suspected of trying to develop nuclear weapons and Sudan for genocide in its Darfur region.
The 21 companies are among 57 the state has listed as off-limits. Florida does not currently have investments with the other 36 companies. Several other companies remain under investigation and could be added later.
Deutch said opponents have argued it would be too difficult to identify companies, possibly hundreds, doing business in the two countries. The number is not nearly so large and Florida already has identified them, he said.
The state relied mainly on research and findings by four outside organizations, the Sudan Divestment Task Force, Institute Shareholder Services, KLD Research & Analytics and the American Israel Public Affairs Committee.
None of the 57 companies listed are based in the United States. The state's largest investment, $303 mln, is with Royal Dutch Shell PLC, headquartered in London, which operates in Iran but not Sudan.
Shell spokeswoman Darci Sinclair said the company is monitoring Florida's law and similar proposals in other states and Congress to assess their potential affect on the company's operations.
"Royal Dutch Shell does have a presence in Iran (although currently only limited interests) and, like other energy companies, takes a long-term view of its operations," Sinclair said in an e-mail.

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