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$184bn Florida fund joins Iran investment boycott

US public pension fund campaign of disinvestment gathers steam

Florida’s $184bn (€130bn) State Board of Administration (FSBA), which runs the state’s pension assets – the fourth largest retirement pot in the US – could pull more than $1bn from companies with links to Iran and Sudan.
Florida’s move is part of a wider examination of investment ties to Iran and Sudan by US public pension funds. Some are threatening to withdraw money from companies that do not sever their business links to the two countries.
The Florida board has voted in favour of a list of “scrutinised companies” that it will examine to decide whether to disinvest. Attorney General Bill McCollum, a member of the board of trustees, said he believed there was approximately $1bn in assets invested in companies with business interests in either country: “This vote advances our efforts to prohibit pension fund investments in companies connected with Iran and Sudan, making Florida the first state in the nation to target both of these countries. We know Iran is a terrorist country and we need to acknowledge that reality.As we move forward with our efforts to protect our state and our nation, we must remain committed to stripping power away from terrorists in any manner possible.”
The FSBA said it had identified 27 companies, including Royal Dutch Shell, Norsk Hydro and Statoil with ties to Iran and 43 companies with ties to Sudan.
CalPERS and CalSTRS, the two largest pension funds in the US, could also be forced to divest from companies with ties to the energy and defence sectors in Iran if state governor Arnold Schwarzenegger signs new legislation.
The proposed bill, which Schwarzenegger has until October 14 to decide whether to sign, would require CalPERS and CalSTRS to divest stocks worth about $2bn and $1.4bn, respectively.
A coalition of investors led by public pension funds in New York has also reportedly written to companies with business ties to Iran, asking them to review their links in the light of the disinvestment campaign.