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Florida cuts ties to make a point

The pension fund will stop investing in firms at work in Sudan, Iran.

By STEVE BOUSQUET, Times Tallahassee Bureau Chief
Published September 20, 2007


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Cutting ties
Here are the lists of 57 companies (though 70 companies are named, 13 appear on both lists) and their nation of incorporation that Florida's pension fund says are doing energy-related work in the Sudan and/or Iran:
Scrutinized companies with activities in the Sudan:
Alstom, France; Areva SA, France; AviChina Industry & Technology Co. Ltd., China; Bharat Heavy Electricals Ltd., India; Bongaigaon Refinery & Petrochemical, India; Chennai Petroleum Corp. Ltd., India; China Petroleum & Chemical Corp. (Sinopec), China; CNPC Hong Kong Ltd., China; Dongan Motor, China; Dongfeng Automobile Co. Ltd., China; Electricity Generating PCL, Thailand; Hafei Aviation Industry Co., China; Harbin Power Equipment, China; Indian Oil Corp. Ltd., India; Jiangxi Changhe Automobile, China; Jiangxi Hongdu Aviation, China; Kejuruteraan Samudra Timur Bhd, Malaysia; KMCOB Capital Bhd., Malaysia; La Mancha Resources, Canada; Lanka IOC, India; Lundin Petroleum AB, Sweden; Lundin International SA, France; Mangalore Refinery & Petrochemical, India; Midiciti Resources Sdn. Bhd., Malaysia; MISC Bhd (Malaysian Intl. Shipping Co.), Malaysia; Muhibbah Engineering, Malaysia; Oil & Natural Gas Corp. (ONGC), India; Optimal Olefins Sdn. Bhd., Malaysia; PECD Bhd, Malaysia; PetroChina, China; PetroFac,United Kingdom; Petroliam Nasional (Petronas), Malaysia; Petronas Dagangan, Malaysia; Petronas Fertilizer Sdn. Bhd., Malaysia; Petronas Gas Bhd., Malaysia; Petronas Assets Sdn. Bhd., Malaysia; Petronas Capital Ltd., Malaysia; Scomi Engineering, Malaysia; Scomi Group, Malaysia; Sinopec Kantons Holdings, China; Sinopec Shanghai Petrochemical Co., China; Weir Group PLC, United Kingdom; Wuhan Boiler Co., United Arab Emirates

Scrutinized companies with activities in Iran's petroleum energy sector
Bow Valley, Canada; CNPC Hong Kong Ltd., Hong Kong; ENI, Italy; Gazprom, Russia; GS Holdings, South Korea; Indian Oil Corp. Ltd. (IOCL), India; Inpex, Japan; Lukoil OAO, Russia; Midiciti Resources Sdn. Bhd., Malaysia; MISC Bhd. (Malaysian Intl. Shipping Co.), Malaysia; Norsk Hydro, Norway; Oil & Natural Gas Corp. (ONGC), India; OMV AG, Austria; Optimal Olefins Sdn. Bhd., Malaysia; PetroChina, China; Petroleo Brasiliero (Petrobras), Brazil; Petroliam Nasional (Petronas), Malaysia; Petronas Assets Sdn. Bhd., Malaysia; Petronas Capital Ltd., Malaysia; Petronas Dagangan Bhd., Malaysia; Petronas Fertilizer Sdn. Bhd., Malaysia; Petronas Gas Bhd., Malaysia; Repsol YPF, Spain; Royal Dutch Shell PLC, United Kingdom; Snam Rete Gas, Italy; Statoil, Norway; Total, France

TALLAHASSEE - Florida made a political statement with its pension fund Wednesday by cutting investment ties with 57 companies doing energy-related work in the Sudan and Iran.

Intended as a condemnation of genocide in Darfur and terrorism in Iran, the action was also meant to spur other states to take similar steps.

At least two other states have also passed laws requiring divestiture of stocks tied to Sudan, but Florida is the first state to target both countries.

The amount of money involved is $1.3-billion, less than 1 percent of the $137-billion that was in the fund Wednesday.

"This is a step that's going to be taken to help defend our country, make us safer and hopefully help end the genocide in the Sudan," said state Sen. Ted Deutch, a Delray Beach Democrat.

The first-term lawmaker sponsored the law, the Protecting Florida Investment Act, which Gov. Charlie Crist signed into law June 8.

The list of affected companies includes few household names and no U.S.-based firms.

Several oil companies are on the list, including Royal Dutch Shell PLC of Great Britain, Eni of Italy, Statoil of Norway and French oil giant Total SA.

According to the standards set forth in the law, the 43 companies on the Sudan list either do business with the Sudanese government; are involved in oil, mineral or power-related projects; provide little benefit to the country's poor; or have been complicit in the genocide in Darfur.

The 27 firms on the Iran list do business with the Iranian government or have similar energy-related projects or have invested in Iran's petroleum sector. Thirteen companies are on both lists, reducing the total to 57.

Pension fund money managers are immediately barred from investing in the firms on the list and must divest the state's holdings in the firms within one year.

The state will notify the affected firms, asking them to stop prohibited operations within 90 days.

"This is a message that's long overdue," said Attorney General Bill McCollum.

"It's a model for our country, for other states, and I think it's awfully important that we take this action," Crist said.

Steve Bousquet can be reached at bousquet@sptimes.com or (850) 224-7263.

[Last modified September 19, 2007, 22:53:42]


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