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US close to law on divestment from Sudan-linked companies

House of Representatives to vote on “Sudan Accountability and Divestment Act” after it passes Senate.

The US Senate has approved legislation that allows pension and mutual funds to pull investment from companies doing business in Sudan without having to worry about subsequent legal action. US public pension funds have already pulled assets worth hundreds of millions of dollars from companies operating in Sudan as a result of state-led political decisions.
The “Sudan Accountability and Divestment Act” is now before the US House of Representatives, which will vote on it shortly. If the act is passed, the House is expected to require publication of a list of sanctioned companies. This could lead other US states to push their public pension funds to divest from the named companies.
Massachussets recently became the 21st state to divest from companies working with the Sudanese government. This prompted the Massachussets Pension Reserves Investment Management Board to sell $54m (€37.5m) of shares in eight companies, including Alstom and PetroChina, both companies targeted by the Sudan Divestment Task Force, a non-governmental organisation operating divestment campaigns in the US, and now working with pension funds in Europe.European pension funds are also increasingly taking action against corporations with involvement in countries with poor human rights records. KLP, the NOK196bn (€24bn), Norwegian life and pensions company, recently joined US investors in excluding Alstom from its index portfolio for alleged violations of human rights at a Sudanese hydro-power project.
Responsible Investor can also reveal that PKA, which administers €15bn in assets for eight Danish occupational pension funds, has decided to withdraw Dkr300m (€40m) from companies with links to the oil and gas industry in Burma. One investment is believed to have been in PetroChina. PKA had already pulled €8.4m from French oil group Total because of its links to the Burmese military regime.
Dutch pension PGGM has also said that it could exclude Sudan-linked companies that prove unresponsive to shareholder engagement.
Since 2003, more than 200,000 people are estimated to have died as a result of the conflict in Darfur in Sudan where the government is accused of using militia death squads against its non-arab population.