Harvard dumps Petro-China stock


The New York Sun reports with approval that Harvard University's endownment fund is divesting itself of shares in Petro—China, the state—owned oil company with oil operations in Sudan, among other locations. The Sun also notes that many of the American business leaders who have supported China's political positions in order to win lucrative business opportunities:

truckling to the leadership in Beijing hasn't always been a guaranteed recipe for maximizing returns. Philip Condit, the Boeing CEO who likened Red China's human rights record to America's and barred a Taiwanese official from visiting a Boeing plant, ended up resigning in a Pentagon procurement scandal as his company faltered. Maurice Greenberg, the AIG CEO who recently resigned amid an accounting scandal, was described by Seth Faison of the New York Times in 1999 as appearing at a conference in Shanghai at which Mr. Greenberg "went out of his way to praise the communist rulers, brushing aside a suggestion that more democracy was needed by arguing that the main job in China is simply feeding the population of 1.3 billion people."

Harvard's announcement included language supporting the general principle of managing its endowment for economic, not political ends.

"Harvard manages its endowment to achieve maximum returns to support the academic purposes and programs of the University, consistent with a prudent level of risk. The University maintains a strong presumption against divesting itself of securities for reasons unrelated to investment purposes, and against using divestment as a political tool or a 'weapon against injustice.'"

But we can expect Harvard's anti—Israel activists to use the Petro—China divestment to push their policy of divestment from companies doing business with Israel.

Hat tip: Ed Lasky

Thomas Lifson  4 5 05