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News :: International
10 Aug 2007
The chief executive of the state pension fund ripped a bill lawmakers have filed forcing the fund to divest from companies with ties to Iran.
"I don't think I'm being Chicken Little when I say this will have a dramatic, negative … impact on the returns of this fund will be able to achieve going forward," said Michael Travaglini, executive director of the Pension Reserves Investment Management board, at its meeting this morning. While divesting from Sudan would only cost the $50 billion pension fund about $80 million, Iran divestments could end up costing the fund as much as $1.1 billion and open the door to other groups looking for divestment, Travaglini said, echoing concerns voiced earlier last month by state Treasurer Timothy Cahill, who chairs the PRIM board. A Sudan divestment bill is still being worked on by both chambers. Travaglini said divesting from Iran will have minimal impact on Iran, while other groups, including casino and alcohol opponents, will press for divestment as well. During a State House interview, Rep. Byron Rushing (D-Boston) called divestment one of a "number of strategies you can use to make conscientious investment decisions." Rushing suggested the treasurer's office start an ongoing advisory committee to deal with the issue. Other divestments have occurred in South Africa, he added. "None of those have ever led to some kind of wholesale slippery slope."

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