By Jonathan Stempel
New York State’s public pension fund, one of the largest pension funds in the United States, will divest its holdings in Russian companies following Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, state Comptroller Thomas DiNapoli said on Friday.
The divestment by the $279.7 billion New York State Common Retirement Fund, which DiNapoli oversees, followed the comptroller’s March 1 decision to end new investments in Russian companies. DiNapoli estimated at the time that the fund had $110.8 million of public equity investments in Russian companies.
He said the investments would be sold in a “prudent manner and timeframe,” consistent with his fiduciary duty.
In a statement, DiNapoli said Russia’s “unconscionable and immoral invasion” of Ukraine has made Russia an “unacceptable investment risk,” and that Russia’s already weak economy is plunging toward an “economic crisis.”
The California Public Employees’ Retirement System (CalPERS), the largest U.S. pension fund, on March 3 halted all transactions in Russian publicly traded equity and stopped the flow of new investments into the country.
It owned about $765 million of Russian public stocks and illiquid real estate assets at the time, out of approximately $469 billion of total assets.
New York’s Common Retirement Fund invests on behalf of more than 1 million state and local government employees, retirees and their beneficiaries.
Russia calls its actions in Ukraine a “special operation.”