Trillium Asset Management Adopts Sudan Divestment Policy(A)
Trillium Asset Management Adopts
Sudan Divestment Policy
BOSTON – September 25, 2006 – Trillium Asset Management, a leader in socially responsible investing (SRI), has adopted a Sudan divestment policy, joining the growing nationwide movement against human rights abuses in the war-torn Darfur region of Sudan.
The divestment policy, one of only a handful adopted to date by a private investment firm or mutual fund, calls for Trillium Asset Management to avoid investing in corporations or any other investment vehicles that contribute revenue to the Sudanese government, provide no benefit to the country’s poor, or have failed to use their influence to oppose the Sudanese government’s genocidal policies.
Before divesting, the policy requires Trillium Asset Management to attempt to dissuade companies from conducting business that props up the government. If unsuccessful, Trillium Asset Management will remove offending companies from its buy-list and divest the holdings from client accounts. Since Sudan is designated a terrorist state by the US government, American companies are prevented from conducting business in or with Sudan, except for humanitarian purposes; however, a number of foreign firms are trading partners with Sudan.
Trillium Asset Management currently manages a small position in Schlumberger, a French multinational oil services company with a significant investment in Sudan. Oil is a major source of revenue for the Sudanese regime, but provides little direct benefit to Sudan’s people. In conjunction with its new policy, Trillium Asset Management sent Schlumberger a letter expressing concern with the oil giant’s Sudan operations, which have expanded markedly in the last two years even as the Darfur genocide has continued. If Schlumberger fails to demonstrate any initiatives designed to offset its indirect role financing the government’s violence, Trillium Asset Management will divest of the holding.
“We typically prefer to engage with companies rather than divest from them, but where Sudan is concerned, there isn’t a lot of gray area to debate,” comments Shelley Alpern, director of social research and advocacy at Trillium Asset Management. “Corporate tax payments received by the government of Sudan are funding this genocide, and that flow of funds has to be cut off. Companies have no business in Sudan right now unless they are providing strictly humanitarian goods and services.”
At least 200,000 people have been killed and more than 2 million forced into camps during more than three years of fighting in the remote Darfur region of Sudan. In 2005, student activists began a nationwide grassroots movement on college campuses protesting the Darfur situation. That effort has led some 30 universities and nearly two dozen states to adopt or consider adopting Sudan divestment policies.
“Although just a very small portion of our assets are affected, by formally adopting a policy and engaging with companies, we hope to add to the momentum of the Sudan divestment movement,” Alpern says. “It took the actions of hundreds of investors to give the South Africa divestment campaign a powerful voice.”
Trillium Asset Management is the nation’s oldest and largest independent investment management firm dedicated solely to socially responsible investing, managing $1 billion in client assets. Founded in 1983, the firm is a pioneer in shareholder activism and has a proven track record of helping clients balance their financial and social objectives through SRI. The employee-owned firm serves individuals whose net worth exceeds $1 million, as well as foundations, endowments, religious institutions and the entertainment industry.
Trillium Asset Management has offices in four cities: Boston, San Francisco, Durham, N.C., and Boise, Idaho. For more information, visit www.trilliuminvest.com.