Mark Brandon is the Managing Partner of First Sustainable (, a registered investment advisory catering to socially responsible investors. In addition to Socially Responsible Investing (SRI), he may opine on social venturing, microfinance, community investing, clean technology commercialization, sustainability public policy, green products, and, on occasion, University of Texas Longhorn sports.

Tuesday, February 28, 2006

Making Your Portfolio Sudan-free

Momentum is growing among public pension plans to divest from companies with ties to the government of Sudan. Lest anyone is unaware of the dire situation, hundreds of thousands of people have been slaughtered and millions have been displaced as Arab militias have terrorized the Darfur region of Sudan. Under the cloak of nationalism, the terrorist thugs in charge are really just trying to gain control of what could be oil rich lands. Genocide on this scale has not been seen since Rwanda in the mid-1990s.

Mobilization for divestment among the public investment community has not been seen since Apartheid. In Illinois, lawmakers passed a bill requiring any money manager involved in the 15 pension funds (accounting for $192 billion) to use a Sudan screen. Likewise, managers of the University of California endowment have begun divesting thanks to some student protests. Calpers, the huge California public employees pension, is following suit.

Stepping up to the plate, research firms KLD and Institutional Shareholder Services (ISS) created screens and information on the publicly held companies involved. Although I am prohibited from republishing the results, KLD is tracking 130 companies while ISS is tracking 167. Eleven of these are in the S&P 500. Forbes magazine gave us a glimpse:
  • Marathon Oil (NYSE:MRO)
  • Schlumberger (NYSE:SLB)
  • Xerox (NYSE:XRX)
  • Eastman Kodak (NYSE: EK)
  • 3M (NYSE: MMM)
The Forbes article gives you the reasons these companies are on the list, though it is behind a members-only area.

Xerox provides evidence that divestment is having an effect. Thanks to the specter of a divestment sell-off, Xerox is terminating a distribution agreement.

Now for the shameless plug. First Sustainable has the tools to sanitize your portfolio of these Sudan-tainted companies. We help customers create their own index, called a folio, which can be traded commission free.


Blogger Peter B. Reiner said...

Thanks for this post. It reminds us all that we do have substantial power in making investment decisions, and with that goes responsibility. Well done.


2:53 PM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

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4:25 AM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Mark - Hello, I enjoyed reading your post on Sudan. I am contacting on behalf of FOLIOfn and I wanted to pass along to you (since you are a client of ours and care about being genocide-free) that we are now the first brokerage firm to offer a genocide-free stock screen, in a partnership with the Sudan Divestment Task Force. You can find the press release on our website I just wanted to pass this along to you. I couldn't find your direct email but I'd love to talk with you about this further or possibly get a client testimonial from you. :) Thank you - Email me at

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