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Second big Pennsylvania pension fund to divest Russia assets

The Associated Press
FILE - This Wednesday, Oct. 7, 2015, file photo shows the Pennsylvania Capitol building in Harrisburg. (AP Photo/Matt Rourke)

HARRISBURG — The board of another big public pension system in Pennsylvania voted Friday to sell off its Russia-related investments, amid bipartisan calls from lawmakers and top state officials to respond to Russia's attack on Ukraine.

The vote by the board of the State Employees’ Retirement System affects roughly $7 million of the $40 billion in assets the system reported having at the start of 2022, it said. That exposure amounts to 0.02%.

In a statement, the board's chair, David Fillman, cited “heightened volatility, risk and potential for losses resulting from exposure to Russia-related investments" and expressed sympathy for Ukrainians.

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The board's resolution also bars new investments in assets related to Russia or Belarus, a key ally of Russia in its attack on Ukraine.

On Thursday, the board of the $72.5 billion Public School Employees’ Retirement System took a similar vote to divest of nearly $300 million directly invested in Russia and Belarus.

Governors and lawmakers in numerous U.S. states have been taking actions to pull state investments from Russian companies, while encouraging private entities to do the same.

In Pennsylvania, Gov. Tom Wolf and state Treasurer Stacy Garrity called for the pension systems to divest, while lawmakers have begun drafting legislation to require it.

The Treasury Department said it sold off as much of its $2.9 million it had invested in Russian companies as it could.