Wednesday, September 26, 2007

Texas Gov. Rick Perry Requests Plan on Iran Divesting

San Antonio Express-News
Web Posted: 09/25/2007 11:31 PM CDT

AUSTIN — Gov. Rick Perry is asking the state's multibillion-dollar state pension funds to give him a plan within 30 days for divesting of any holdings in companies that do direct business with Iran.

"The examples we set in Texas can have international ramifications," Perry said in a letter he disclosed at a Tuesday appearance in Dallas to announce the establishment of the Texas-Israel Chamber of Commerce.

Perry — who said in July, fresh from a trip to Israel, that he wanted the divestment — also sent a letter to governors of states that haven't taken similar action, urging them to join his call for change.

Most U.S. companies are forbidden to do business in Iran under federal law, but the pension fund investments in companies based in other countries could be affected.

Perry wants the Texas pension funds to identify direct investments in companies that do business with Iran, find equivalent alternative investments, encourage "offending companies" to change their ways and divest holdings in companies that don't respond as desired.

Reaction from state lawmakers ranged from supportive to skeptical to concerned.

Perry said in his letter, "I know there will be critics of my directive from those who will contend that Texas' investment portfolios will not perform as well. I refuse to accept the premise, however, that the only way to make money is by investing in terrorism."

The Legislature this year approved, and Perry signed, a measure directing the $112.5 billion Teacher Retirement System and $24.7 billion Employees Retirement System to get rid of holdings in companies doing business in Sudan because of atrocities in Darfur.

Gov. Perry: TRS, ERS Should Divest Funds from Companies with Ties to Iran
Sep. 25, 2007

DALLAS - Today at an event announcing the establishment of the Texas-Israel Chamber of Commerce, Gov. Rick Perry said he is asking the Employees Retirement System (ERS) and Teachers Retirement System (TRS) to divest all investments from companies doing business with Iran.

"The example we set in Texas can have international ramifications. Today I am asking the Employees Retirement System and the Teacher Retirement System, as the keepers of the state's multibillion dollar investment funds, to divest their respective interests from all companies doing business with Iran," Perry said. "While Texas cannot set its own foreign policy, we can send a strong message that Texans will not condone Iran's continued support of those seeking to do harm to our men and women in uniform."

Approximately 400 internationally-traded companies have ties to Iran.

In addition to Iran's role in terrorist activities, Gov. Perry expressed concerns about that nation's aggressive posture toward Israel. The Governor has long supported an American foreign policy that recognizes the right of a Jewish state to exist in the Middle East, one that consistently advocates for the protection and preservation of democratic states in that part of the world, including Israel.

During a recent visit to Israel, the Governor and First Lady met with Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert, former Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu and former Prime Minister and President Shimon Peres, an event that set in motion the establishment of the Texas-Israel Chamber of Commerce.

"I want Texas to become the preferred location for Israeli companies doing business in the U.S.," Perry said. "Like Texas, Israel has a long history of growing new technology companies through partnerships that include universities, government and private investors and entrepreneurs. Strengthening relationships between these two 'Lone Star States' will benefit our respective economies and increase understanding."

Texas is Israel's third largest American trading partner. Israel's dedication to fostering new technology has made it second only to the U.S. in the number of start-up companies worldwide.

The commercial relationship between Texas and Israel began with agriculture and natural resources and has in recent years grown to include virtually all other major business sectors, including information technology, medical technologies, aerospace and defense, homeland security and energy.

The Texas-Israel Chamber of Commerce serves to bring companies and industries together and to bridge the geographic and cultural barriers to benefit businesses in Texas and Israel. Through the chamber, Texas-based member companies will gain access to not only the Israeli market, but also indirectly to other international markets such as European Union countries through trade with Israel.

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