Texas Funds' Sudan-linked Investments Relatively Small

January 9, 2008 (PLANSPONSOR.com) - The Texas state retirement funds for teachers and public employees have discovered that a small percentage of their holdings are invested in Sudan-linked companies.

The Houston Chronicle reports the $114.8 billion Teacher Retirement System on Tuesday identified $62 million in six companies, and the $25 billion Employees Retirement System identified $3.5 million in one company. Identification of the investments is the first step the funds must take under a new state law (See Texas House Approves Sudan Divestment Bill ).

Although the percentage may be small, state Senator Rodney Ellis (D-Houston), author of the law, said “It is significant in terms of the impact that it may have on the discussion in Sudan and around the globe.”

Last month Texas Teacher Retirement System trustees approved an Iran/Sudan-linked divestiture policy that calls for dropping investments only if “comparable investments offering similar quality, return and safety are available.” (See Texas Fund Divestiture Policy Includes Caveat )

The retirement systems identified their holdings after state Comptroller Susan Combs last week, as required by the law, identified companies with business operations in Sudan, according to the Houston Chroncile. She identified 27 companies, including a number of energy-related companies.

The next step under the law is for the pension funds to notify the companies that they may become subject to divestment and encourage them to cease any active operations in Sudan. The companies would have a chance to clarify their activities.