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State of Michigan Investment Board Unanimously Approves to Divest Michigan from Russian and Belarusian Investments
March 09, 2022
The State of Michigan Investment Board voted unanimously today to divest the State of Michigan Retirement Systems (SMRS) pension plans from companies based in Russia and Belarus.
The state board's action comes after Gov. Gretchen Whitmer issued a letter on March 1 calling for a special meeting to divest from any institutions and companies based in Russia. The State of Michigan Investment Board will begin divesting from Russian and Belarusian companies as soon as practical when market conditions allow.
"Today, the board decided this action is more than the right thing to do," said State Treasurer Rachael Eubanks, who is the chairperson of the State of Michigan Investment Board. "We have directed the investment team to begin the divestment process. Any state assets that could be used to support and prolong Russian's war against Ukraine runs contrary to the purpose of providing benefits to individuals who dedicate their professional lives to public service."
The SMRS serves to provide benefits to active and retired civil servants and other individuals who have worked for the benefit of the state of Michigan.
With the SMRS portfolio exceeding $98 billion, approximately 0.06% of state pension assets are associated with Russian institutions and organizations. There are no Belarusian holdings in the state portfolio.
The Russian holdings are managed by external investment managers and primarily invested in low-cost international stock index funds. The index funds are the direct owners of the Russian securities.
The SRMS will send formal letters to all relevant investment managers, requesting expeditious divestment from any Russian investments.
"The world watched in horror as President Vladimir Putin launched an illegal and destructive war against the people of Ukraine," said Governor Gretchen Whitmer. "The actions taken by State Treasurer Eubanks and the State of Michigan Investment Board today are a signal to the world that Michigan stands firmly in solidarity with Ukraine. Thank you to Treasurer Eubanks for taking this important step today."
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