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Mass. pension fund to sell over $50m of stock

8 companies said to support Sudan

The state pension fund will sell more than $50 million worth of stock in eight companies after Governor Deval Patrick signed a bill yesterday directing the state to stop investing in companies that support the government of strife-torn Darfur, a pension official said.

Michael Travaglini, executive director of the $50 billion Pension Reserves Investment Management Board, said that as of September the pension fund held about $54 million in securities of eight companies that have been targeted by the Sudan Divestment Task Force, a national group organizing divestment campaigns around the country.

State pension officials will ask their outside investment managers to sell the shares of the companies, including Alstom, China Petroleum & Chemical Corp., and PetroChina, which is working with the Sudanese government on a billion-dollar project to boost oil production.

The other current holdings of the pension fund are: Dongfeng Motor Group Co. Ltd; Lundin Petroleum AB; Mitsui Engineering & Shipbuilding; Wartsila Corp.; and Weatherford International Inc.

Massachusetts is the 21st state to adopt a policy to divest stock of companies that are working on ventures that benefit the Sudanese government.

More than 200,000 people have been killed since the conflict in Darfur began in 2003, when African rebels took up arms against the Arab-dominated Sudanese government.

The government is accused of retaliating by unleashing a militia of Arab nomads on its Sudanese citizens.

At a bill-signing ceremony yesterday, Patrick acknowledged the measure would have little impact on the Sudanese government.

But he said: "Together with other states and other countries who are making their voices heard and their presence felt, there's a way of making a profound difference."

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