Alaska News

Permanent Fund board reverses position on Sudan investments

The leaders of the Alaska Permanent Fund have reversed their position and now support selling the fund's stock holdings in companies that do business in Sudan. At a meeting this week in Juneau, the board of the state's $28 billion oil-wealth savings account endorsed legislation offered by Gov. Sarah Palin calling for the stock sale. The Palin administration bill is one of at least three pertaining to fund investments in Sudan out of concern for the genocide occurring in that country's Darfur region.

Last year the fund's chief executive, Mike Burns, testified strongly against a divestment bill sponsored by two Anchorage lawmakers, Reps. Bob Lynn and Les Gara.

"We've never done any social investing," Burns said at the time. "It doesn't come free, and it's not good investment policy."

The bill didn't pass.

The new legislation addresses some concerns that Permanent Fund officials had with last year's bill. Considering the overall value of the fund, it has only a tiny investment -- worth about $3 million -- in companies with Sudanese interests.