Governor Michelle Lujan Grisham has urged the State Investment Board to immediately assess state portfolios and divest of financial assets “that could benefit the Russian government and its supporters in its war against Ukraine. “.
“The State of New Mexico has substantial investments that can directly or indirectly aid the Russian invasion,” the governor wrote in a letter to the agency Friday. “This is unacceptable. Not a penny should go towards advancement [Russian President Vladimir] Putin’s brutality.
The push from the governor, a Democrat seeking re-election in November, comes as other funds divest their Russian holdings in response to the attack on Ukraine, which Lujan Grisham called unwarranted.
“Thousands of Ukrainians have been murdered for no reason, and many more will likely perish in the days, weeks and months to come,” she wrote.
The State Investment Council, which the governor chairs, manages more than $36 billion in permanent endowment and public funds, including about $1.84 billion for 23 other New Mexico government entities.
Last week, about $7.9 million was invested in Russian stocks and bonds, or 0.025% of the agency’s holdings, spokesman Charles Wollmann said.
“We looked into that, but … the Russian markets were closed last week, so the securities in question are not trading,” he said. “Trade is stopped on them, and we don’t know when it will resume.”
Exposure to Russian stocks and bonds comes in “different flavors”, Wollmann said.
“Two of them are in an index,” he said. “The financial press reports that the originators of these indices will remove the Russian companies in question, so that the exposure takes place on its own.”
Another stake, which makes up the bulk of the agency’s Russian investments, is through an emerging markets manager, he said.
“The board will need to look at this and see how it can best proceed to divest itself in the most efficient way for optimal results for the beneficiaries, which are the schools and the ratepayers,” he said.
As the agency received the governor’s letter Friday afternoon, Wollmann reiterated that a review was already underway.
“The fact is there is nothing to do at the moment until the markets reopen,” he said. “Then we can make a decision and address this in the least damaging way.”
Wollmann also said the agency’s investors were monitoring the markets “on a daily and hourly basis” and were aware of “how things ended” before the invasion began. Before the governor’s letter, others called for cutting ties with Russia.
Wollmann said the council was scheduled to meet on March 22.
“Obviously the governor is our president and his opinion is critical to what we do,” he said. “Other council members, I don’t know how they want to approach this. [The governor’s letter] was not an executive order. It was a guideline to assess portfolios, which we’ve been working on for a week now, so it’s ongoing; that happens. For the rest, we just have to wait for the freeze to lift on those titles and see how the board wants to approach that. »