Pennsylvania state agencies move to rid their Russia investment portfolios

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The state employee pension system no longer has Russian bonds in its portfolio, according to a spokeswoman for the agency.

He sold the four Russian government bonds that had a collective value of about $9.6 million last year, spokeswoman Pam Hile said. The system has $38 billion in assets.

“Our staff carefully reviewed the entire portfolio and determined that the fund’s exposure to Russia-related investments amounts to a fraction of 1%,” Hile said. “The portfolio has no exposure to Belarus.”

SERS’ board plans to discuss Russia-related investments, including its portfolio exposure and any actions it deems appropriate, at its board meeting scheduled for Friday, it said. Hill.

Meanwhile, other state agencies have been scrambling to divest their investments in Russia and back countries in a show of support for Ukraine since the Russian attacks launched last week.

The public school employee pension system, which said it has invested less than $300 million directly in Russian and Belarusian assets, is planning an emergency meeting Thursday afternoon in light of the crisis in Ukraine. The level of investment it has in these countries is a fraction of 1% of its total assets of $72.5 billion.

Already, State Treasurer Stacy Garrity has divested all but $184,000 of the $2.9 million the Commonwealth had invested in 31 Russian companies as a show of solidarity with Ukraine. A spokesperson for the agency said these products were spread across the Treasury’s indexed portfolio.

“We have sold our stake in 28 of the companies,” Treasury spokeswoman Samantha Heckel said. “The last three securities are American Depositary Receipts that were halted from trading as part of the sanctions. Therefore, we will not be able to dispose of these securities unless the trading halt is lifted.”

In the meantime, Heckel said US government sanctions on Russia are preventing Russian companies from accessing the $184,000.

Lawmakers in both houses are also proposing legislation requiring the divestiture of all Commonwealth assets linked to the Russian government and its supporters.

“Commonwealth public funds represent a substantial amount of investment power,” said House Majority Kerry Benninghoff of R-Center County, who is sponsoring a Russian surrender bill. “We have a moral obligation to ensure that our investments in public funds do not inadvertently support those who engage in an unprovoked invasion of their democratically elected neighbors.”

“We cannot, must not, and must not ignore the atrocity of Russia’s unprovoked and unlawful invasion of the sovereign nation of Ukraine,” said Sen. Sharif Street, D-Philadelphia, who sponsors its own proposal to divest from Russia. “We need to send a message, not only with economic sanctions at the federal level but at all levels of government.”

Other shows of support for Ukraine came from the Pennsylvania Liquor Control Board which removed Russian-made liquor from the shelves of fine wine and liquor stores in the state and Governor Tom Wolf ordered that the State Capitol is bathed at night in blue and yellow lights in a spectacle. solidarity for Ukraine at least until Friday.

Jan Murphy can be reached at jmurphy@pennlive.com. Follow her on Twitter at @JanMurphy.

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