The Save Darfur Coalition has been expanding its campaign to prompt mutual funds, pension plans and endowments to divest holdings in Sudan, the Associated Press reports. And while it’s been having some success, primarily with pension plans, not all of the asset managers with stakes in companies in the area are willing to sell out.
Certainly, Fidelity Investments sold 91% of its holdings in a Chinese oil company that does business in the area, but it denies having done so for any socially responsible investing reasons—and some in the industry believe that.
“I haven’t seen anything to really confirm that the reason they reduced the PetroChina stake is because of Save Darfur,” noted Dan Lefkowitz, an analyst who covers Fidelity at Morningstar. “I just don’t think they operate that way.”
And shareholders of Berkshire Hathaway voted not to sell the company’s stake in PetroChina.
Other industry watchers don’t believe problems around the world should be in the purview of asset managers or investors. “I think the groups are trying to shed some light on the connection between outrageous behavior in some part of the world, like genocide, and the money connection to the average investor through their company-sponsored retirement plan or their pension plan,” said Jeff Tjornehoj, an analyst with Lipper. “They’re trying to make a connection between two seemingly different worlds.”