Harvard University divests $4.4m of PetroChina stock

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Wednesday, April 6, 2005

In response to pressure from students and faculty, Harvard University announced on April 4 that it would sell its shares of PetroChina stock, The Harvard Crimson reported. The Crimson noted that the University held 67,200 shares of PetroChina in December of 2004. At present prices, the stock would be worth approximately $4.4 million, said the paper. The precise details of Harvard's holdings in PetroChina were not specified in the University's statement; it stated simply that it would direct the Harvard Management Company to "divest its holdings of PetroChina stock."

PetroChina is a subsidiary of China National Petroleum Company, which invested $1 billion in what the Crimson called a "joint venture" with the government of Sudan to develop the nation's oil infrastructure. The company was characterized as playing a "leading role . . . in the Sudanese oil industry, which is so important to the Sudanese regime" by Harvard president Lawrence Summers, said the Globe.

According to The Boston Globe, Harvard's divestment is particularly significant because Harvard "never fully divested itself from companies doing business with apartheid South Africa, unlike many other major universities."

The divestment occurred after a petition started by two Harvard juniors, Ben Collins and Manav Bhatnagar, circulated at the university, receiving signatures from more than 80 faculty members and hundreds of students.

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