An Idaho investment manager said the state's retirement fund has a small amount of stock holdings in BP, the oil company linked to the ongoing oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico, and that they’re unlikely to sell the stock owned for the Public Employee Retirement System of Idaho (PERSI).
PERSI Investment Officer Bob Maynard said the fund that pays retirement benefits for state workers has historically underweighted BP, meaning it holds less of BP stock than an average investment portfolio would. Maynard said the investment decision isn’t because of the current environmental situation in the Gulf of Mexico, and a PERSI official said state investors have traditionally preferred another oil company, Royal Dutch Shell.
BP’s stock has lost nearly half its value since the April 20 Deepwater Horizon spill, dropping from $60 a share to just over $30 a share, as of Monday afternoon. About 126 million gallons of oil has flowed in the gulf so far, according to The Associated Press, though lower projections using data from BP and the federal government suggest the total could almost 68 million.
PERSI’s multi-billion portfolio goes to pay retired state workers, not any other state services. There have been efforts in the past for PERSI to not invest in certain companies due to political or social concerns. In 2007, PERSI set up a separate retirement fund for state workers who didn’t want to invest in companies that did business in the war-ravaged country of Sudan. State lawmakers introduced a plan in 2008 ordering PERSI to divest its holdings in foreign companies deemed to facilitate genocide in Sudan’s Darfur region, but that effort didn’t become law.