Friday, May 25, 2007

Fidelity Responds to Pressure for Sudan Divestment!

The push for Fidelity to divest of its Sudanese assets is only a few months old and is already yielding results! SaveDarfur announced over 150,000 faxes and emails were sent to Fidelity, so it did get their attention.
The core concept of my blog is that Money Changes Things on an interior level - how one makes decisions about life style and consumption. But Money also Changes Things when it is leveraged or simply applied to all kinds of situations, be they political, interpersonal, or philanthropic/civic. My impression is that the vast majority of people with positive cashflow and assets rarely go beyond the first level, spending-investing-donating, to examine other strategies for using their money to further their larger ideals, not because they don't care about things beyond themselves, but because they don't know how to do this.
I am utterly impressed with the Fidelity Divestment initiative - it is a smart and effective way to mobilize people who might not be motivated to demonstrate or lobby against genocide, but have been willing to complain to Fidelity and use their assets to defend anti-genocide principles.
Here, from their website:

Our voices are being heard and our actions are having results

  • On May 15, Fidelity's SEC filings showed that they sold most of their holdings on the New York Stock Exchange of both PetroChina and Sinopec. They sold 91 percent of PetroChina ADR shares and 99% of Sinopec ADR shares.
  • News of the sell-off was quickly heralded by members of the financial press as a victory for divestment activists and American investors who have been pressuring Fidelity to divest from these two Chinese oil companies that are helping to fund the genocide in Darfur.
  • Fidelity’s sale of 91% of its PetroChina ADRs helps fuel the growing recognition that PetroChina and other Sudan-related stocks are becoming “radioactive.” Increasingly, investors and fund managers should steer clear of targeted companies that are helping to fund the genocide as they become pariahs for responsible investors.

Keep the pressure on Fidelity to disclose and to divest

  • Fidelity's action is very significant, but only a first step, since Fidelity may be continuing to be a massive shareholder in PetroChina by virtue of shares purchased on overseas markets. (Early press reports overstated the reduction made by Fidelity by a large margin, by failing to account for Fidelity's large holdings outside of the New York Stock Exchange.)
  • Fidelity appears to be listening to the concerns of American investors who do not want their money tied to investments that help support the genocide in Darfur.
  • While we applaud Fidelity for taking what seems to be a positive step toward divestment from such companies, we have an incomplete picture because Fidelity has provided no information about its holdings of H shares on the Hong Kong exchange which represented the majority of its holdings in PetroChina.
  • Investors should understand that Fidelity may be continuing to be a massive shareholder in PetroChina. Since Fidelity has made no statement or commitment regarding divestment from PetroChina, investors entrusting their money to Fidelity mutual funds continue to risk inadvertently investing in PetroChina and other companies helping to fund the genocide in Darfur.
  • Fidelity and other investment companies like Berkshire Hathaway should make a commitment to their customers that they will not invest in companies that support genocide.
  • When Fidelity files an updated 13G report revealing the extent of their overall global holdings of PetroChina, or should the company choose to voluntarily disclose information regarding its H shares, it will be possible to properly assess the significance of Fidelity’s May 15 SEC filing.
  • If Fidelity neither reduced nor increased their holdings of H shares, their reduction in ADR holdings means that their total holdings would have been reduced by approximately 38%.

Genocide Intervention Network, which works ceaselessly to end the Darfur genocide, is lobbying 2008 presidential candidates to take a strong position on Darfur and Sudan. You can follow this link to sign their petition. SaveDarfur is urging legislators to pressure China, since they are the major investor in Sudan's oil and have looked the other way, despite knowing full well that Sudan's politicians are responsible for exterminating Sudanese Darfuris. You can sign their petition, too. Thanks for taking actions to fight genocide!

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