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1502 Steven Chase, “Ontario teachers target Talisman,” Globe and Mail (Toronto), Calgary, November 18, 1999.
1503 Paul Waldie, “Teachers urged to dump Talisman,” National Post (Toronto), November 18, 1999.
1504 Gary Kenny, KAIROS, email to Human Rights Watch, June 21, 2002. The Ontario Teachers’ Pension Plan Board website states, regarding corporate social responsibility, that “non-financial considerations cannot take precedence over risk and return considerations in the management of the pension fund....” The pension plan proxy voting guidelines then state that the pension plan encourages companies to develop policies to address social policy issues including environmental impact and impact on the communities of its operations which policies Talisman had not adopted with regard to Sudan. Ontario Teachers’ Pension Plan Board, Corporate Governance Policies and Voting Proxy Guidelines, http://www.otpp.com/web/website.nsf/web/CorporateGovern/$FILE/ProxyVoting.pdf (accessed June 24, 2002).
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holdings.1505 AASG said the funds included Fidelity Investments, Vanguard Group, State Street, the State of New Jersey Division of Investment, the California Public Employees Retirement Plan (CALpers), the New York State Common Retirement Fund, and the State of Wisconsin Investment Board.1506 Other groups were targeted for divestment as well, including Capital Management Group, the Teacher Retirement System of Texas,1507 and TIAA-CREF, the world’s largest private pension fund. As of May 1, 2001, more than ten major institutional shareholders had divested more than 3 million Talisman Energy shares, with a value of more than U.S. $ 100 million.1508 The activists lobbied the manager of New York City’s U.S. $ 90 billion pension fund, Alan Hevesi, who was reported in October 1999 to have hopes of convincing Talisman to threaten a withdrawal from Sudan as a means of pushing Sudan to end slavery and the civil war. CEO Buckee replied that he welcomed discussions with the funds but believed Talisman was doing more for the Sudanese people by keeping cordial relations with the Sudanese government and asking questions about government policies.1509 The Council of the City of New York, urged by Alan Hevesi, held a hearing to examine the city’s involvement with corporations doing business in Sudan.1510 New York City finally sold all its Talisman shares in the fall of 2000 and did not publicly dispute the characterization of the sale as a divestment.1511 Several large investors targeted by the campaign decided to sell out after taking months of hammering.
In December 1999, TIAA-CREF said that it had sold its 260,000 Talisman shares on the grounds that 1505 See, e.g., Com. John Busby, National Commander, The Salvation Army; Charles W. Colson, founder, Prison Fellowship Ministries; Nina Shea, director, Center for Religious Freedom, Freedom House; Rabbi Irving Greenberg, President, Jewish Life Network et al., letter to James Burton, Chief Executive Officer, California Public Employees Retirement System, January 24, 2000.
1506 Leslie Miller, “Group calls for stock boycott to prevent slavery,” AP, Boston, July 28, 1999. AASG press release, “New Jersey divests from ‘slave stock,’” Boston, January 27, 2000, http://www.anti-slavery.org/pages/updates/njdivest.html (accessed Aug. 27, 2003).
1507 The Teacher Retirement System of Texas was established by the Texas state legislature.
http://www.tsha.utexas.edu/handbook/online/articles/view/TT/met1.html.(accessed August 21, 2003).
1508 These numbers include only those Talisman shareholders who liquidated 100 percent of their position after being targeted, and have publicly acknowledged the liquidation. The numbers thus understate the extent of the divestment campaign as a whole. Eric Reeves, email to Human Rights Watch, May 18, 2001.
1509 Steven Chase, “Talisman urged to threaten Sudan,” Globe and Mail (Toronto), Calgary, October 13, 1999.
1510 Ian Fisher, “Oil Flowing in Sudan, Raising the Stakes in Its Civil War,” New York Times, Khartoum, October 17, 1999.
1511 Business section, New York Post, September 16, 2000.
the time was right to sell and move on.1512 Activists applauded the sale and expressed skepticism about the financial explanation for it.1513 The Teacher Retirement System of Texas and CALpers sold off their Talisman shares after being lobbied by Sudan activists.1514 The New Jersey Pension Fund sold its 780,000 shares of Talisman in early 2000, though it claimed that the sale was a business move, not a moral statement.1515 The Vanguard Group also sold off all its shares in mid-2000 after coming under divestment pressure.1516 Smith College issued a preemptive divestment statement, pledging that it would not acquire any shares of Talisman while Talisman remained a part of GNPOC.1517 Manning and Napier Advisors sold off its 1 million shares but also denied this was a divestment, although its public comments made it clear that the company knew about the divestment campaign.1518 In a response to the divestment campaign, Talisman announced that it would be buying back up to $ 300 million worth of its own shares in 2000, in an effort to keep the per share price up.1519 On February 28, 1512 Charles Frank, “U.S. teacher fund sells Talisman shares,” Calgary Herald, December 10, 1999.
1513 “Activists Applaud TIAA-CREF’s Talisman Share Sale,” Dow Jones Energy Service (New York), Washington, December 8, 1999.
1514 Paul Waldie, “[Ontario] Teachers urged to dump Talisman,” National Post (Toronto), November 18, 1999; “Anti-Slavery Group Hails Texas Teachers for Divesting from ‘Slave Stock,’” PRNewswire, November 1, 1999; Jane Lampman, “Battle against oppression abroad turns to Wall Street,” Christian Science Monitor (Boston), March 3, 2000.
1515 “New Jersey’s Pension Funds Unload Stock in Canadian Oil Company,” Star-Ledger/KRTBN (Newark), January 27, 2000.
1516 Eric Reeves, email to Human Rights Watch, June 7, 2001 (quoting letter from Vanguard CEO to individuals who had been pressuring for divestment, first half of 2000).
1517 Eric Reeves, Smith College press release, February 26, 2000.
1518 “Silence is golden, PR experts tell Talisman,” November 20, 1999.
1519 Paul Waldie and Charlie Tillis, “Talisman to embark on share buyback; Buckee admits Sudanese operations have hurt stock price,” National Post (Toronto), December 15, 1999. Talisman bought back a total of 4,278,300 common shares for a total Canadian $ 210.2 million (U.S. $ 142.5 million) (Canadian $ 49.13 or U.S. $33.31 per share) in February 2000 at the time of their repurchasing
2001, Talisman renewed its offer to buy back up to 5 percent of its outstanding common stock for the year starting March 5, 2001.1520 Although the stringent prohibitions on Americans doing business with Sudan remained in place under a Clinton administration executive order, the Khartoum government was hopeful that from January 2001 it would receive better treatment under the administration of George W. Bush. President El Bashir went so far as to invite “U.S. oil companies to participate in oil exploration and production.”1521 President Bush nevertheless renewed the stringent sanctions in November 2001, and again in November 2002.
The Campaign for Capital Market Sanctions A novel human rights strategy emerged, which appeared to be the brainchild of Roger W. Robinson, Jr., chairman of the William J. Casey Institute, a conservative think-tank. Robinson was previously in President Reagan’s National Security Council.1522 The strategy was capital market sanctions: the idea that foreign companies—in the oil business in Sudan—should not be allowed to raise money in U.S. capital markets. The reasoning was that Sudan had been designated by the State Department as a terroristsponsoring gross human rights abuser, U.S. companies were subject to stiff sanctions barring them from doing business with Sudan, and, because the Sudanese government claimed the subsoil rights, anyone in the oil exploration, development, or production business in Sudan would therefore be engaged in business with the government.
bid. Talisman also bought back, before year’s end, 730,800 common shares for Canadian $ 40.8 million (U.S. $ 27.7 million). The grand total for 2000 was 5,009,100 shares repurchased for Canadian. $ 251 million. Talisman 2000 Annual Report, p. 33.
1520 Talisman press release, “Talisman Energy Inc. Normal Course Issuer Bid,” Calgary, March 6, 2001.
1521 “Sudan’s Bashir seeks better ties with U.S.,” Reuters, Cairo, January 10, 2001.
1522 Edward Alden, “US And Canada: SEC Chief Inherits Disclosure Bombshell: Capital Markets Watchdog's Expanded Role May Cause Sea Change In The Way Foreign Companies List In US,” Financial Times (London) Washington, May 11, 2001.
The impact of U.S. economic sanctions on Sudan were defeated by foreign companies which benefited from access to U.S. capital markets as they dodged U.S. sanctions. The efforts to convince the U.S.
president, the Treasury Department, and the Securities and Exchange Commission to bar these foreign companies from U.S. capital markets were ultimately unsuccessful in this first test case, but in the process the campaigners brought enormous pressure on the oil companies and financial community, and not least of all on the Sudanese government.
More than 200 U.S. religious and civic leaders signed a petition to U.S. President Bill Clinton in December 1999, urging that he take a visible, personal stance on the “genocide” in Sudan and specifically that he construe or amend the executive order imposing sanctions on Sudan to bar the CNPC from access to U.S. capital markets as long as it continued to be a 40 percent partner in GNPOC.1523 The president declined to impose capital market sanctions on CNPC or anyone, as did his successor President Bush.
The Department of the Treasury, in response to inquiries from the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, responded on September 8, 1999 and April 13, 2000 that the comprehensive sanctions program against the government of Sudan did not apply to Talisman as a Canadian corporation trading on the N.Y. Stock Exchange. The sanctions would, however, prohibit U.S. persons from contracting to underwrite or purchase shares in a new public offering by Talisman—if the proceeds were for use to support a project in Sudan.1524 Although this would prevent Talisman or any other foreign company from raising money in the U.S. for a Sudan project, it would not deter Talisman from raising money in the U.S. for its other projects. Talisman argued that its Sudan project comprised only 10 percent of its assets.
1523 Among the signatories were Bishop Robert Morgan, the President of the Council of Bishops of the United Methodist Church;
Clifton Kirkpatrick, the Stated Clerk of the Presbyterian Church, U.S.A.; the Rt. Rev. Stephen Jecko and four other bishops of the Episcopal Church (but not its conference of bishops); Peggy Noonan, Chuck Colson, Michael Horowitz, at Hudson Institute;
Freedom House Chairman Bette Bao Lord; former U.S. Secretary of the Treasury William Simon; and former U.S. National Security Advisor William P. Clark. Letter to President William Jefferson Clinton, Washington, D.C., December 9, 1999.
1524 R. Richard Newcomb, director, Office of Foreign Assets Control, Department of the Treasury, letter to Sen. Russell D. Feingold, Washington, D.C., April 13, 2000.
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In mid-May, 2001, the SEC the responded in a manner more favorable to the activists. It said, in answer to a letter from Rep. Frank Wolf, that it would require greater disclosure from foreign firms in their mandatory filings pertaining to shares listed and traded in U.S. capital markets.1525 The SEC held, “The fact that a foreign company is doing material business with a country, government, or entity on [U.S.
Office of Foreign Assets Control]’s sanctions list is, in the SEC staff’s view, substantially likely to be significant to a reasonable investor’s decision about whether to invest in that company.”1526 Many hailed this as a “victory” for human rights groups.1527 Rep. Frank Wolf’s charges that PetroChina and Talisman may have failed to disclose material information in reports filed with the SEC was referred to the SEC’s division of enforcement.
Failing to provoke executive agencies into decisive action, however, the campaigners sought U.S.
legislation to prohibit foreign companies engaged in the oil business in Sudan from listing or trading their shares on any U.S. stock exchange.1528 In June 2001, the U.S. House of Representatives passed the Sudan Peace Act together with a last-minute amendment offered by Rep. Spencer Bachus (R-AL) regarding capital market sanctions.1529 The Bush administration indicated that it opposed capital market 1525 See above, “China’s First Initial Public Offering on the N.Y. Stock Exchange Backfires;” Letter and attachments from Laura S.
Unger, acting chairman, SEC, to the Honorable Frank P. Wolf, U.S. House of Representatives, Washington, D.C., May 8, 2001, http://www.security-policy.org/papers/2001/LSEC-Wolf.pdf (accessed June 7, 2001).
1526 Ibid, p. 3.
1527 See Jane Lampman, “Human rights groups gain ‘disclosure’ victory on Wall Street,” Christian Science Monitor (Boston), May 17, 2001; Edward Alden and John Labate, “The Americas: SEC plans to tighten rules on embargoes,” Financial Times (London), May 11, 2001; Barrie McKenna, “SEC policy change to put Talisman under tighter scrutiny,” Globe and Mail (Toronto), Washington, D.C., May 15, 2001; Jim Wolf, “U.S. SEC to examine foreign firms’ deals with foes,” Reuters, Washington, D.C., May 14, 2001.
1528 Eric Reeves, “Capital market sanctions,” email to Human Rights Watch, March 26, 2001.
1529 The Sudan Peace Act, which sought to draw policy and appropriations on Sudan together into one bill, was first offered in 1999 and again in 2000. In June 2001 it passed the House of Representatives by a vote of 422 to 2, and was sent to the Senate. The capital market sanctions amendment was dropped and the bill passed the Senate and was signed into law by Pres. George W.
Bush on October 21, 2002.
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