Saturday, 12 January 2008

Divestment doubts

There's a well-argued piece from a former public pension fund trustee in Pensions & Investments making the case against divestment. I agree with pretty much all of it. Divestment in my view is strategically nonsensical since you lose your voice and the shares you sell will simply be bought by someone who clearly isn't bothered by the issues that caused you to divest. I also doubt divestment has any impact on the company, barring a bit of reputational damage if it's a big shareholder selling out.

I think you need to make a few exceptions though. It's obviously important for values-driven organisations to have the divestment option open. Why should a cancer charity have investments in tobacco firms for example. Equally at some point if your concerns about a given company are that strong it seems bizarre to keep engaging. But for most pension funds most of the time divestment is a dead end.

However I had a bit of a chuckle about the last line in the P&I article. Only Americans can write this sort of thing with a straight face surely?

Divest and the terrorists win.

No comments: