Perry says divest investments in companies investing in Iran

Houston Chronicle:

Gov. Rick Perry is asking the multibillion-dollar state pension funds to give him a plan within 30 days for divesting any holdings in companies that do direct business with Iran.

"The examples we set in Texas can have international ramifications," Perry said in the letter, which he disclosed at a Tuesday appearance in Dallas to announce the establishment of the Texas-Israel Chamber of Commerce. "We can be an agent of change just as the anti-apartheid divestment movement led to changes in South Africa in the 1980s."

Perry said in July, fresh from a trip to Israel, that he wanted the divestment, and has sent a letter to governors of states that haven't taken similar action, urging them to join his call for change.

Most U.S. companies are forbidden to do business in Iran under federal law, but the pension fund investments in firms based in other countries could be affected.

Perry wants the Texas pension funds to identify direct investments in companies that do business with Iran; find equivalent alternative investments; encourage "offending companies" to change their ways; and divest holdings in companies that don't respond as desired.

Investment managers usually do not like to have non economic factors imposed on their investment decisions. In this case a case can be made that investments in Iran have a high degree of risk, because of the possibility that the country will be destroyed by a war it provokes because of its religious bigotry. While the investment manager may see the demand as an emotional reaction, markets are not immune from emotional movements.


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