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Alaska lawmakers urge divestment from Russian companies

JUNEAU, Alaska (AP) — Democrats in the Alaska Senate have asked leaders of the Alaska Permanent Fund Corp. to divest assets from any Russian government or Russia state-owned institutions amid Russia’s war against Ukraine.

Paulyn Swanson, a spokesperson for the corporation that manages assets of Alaska’s nest-egg permanent fund, in a statement Monday said the corporation “is not contemplating a divestment strategy at this time.”

“We are closely monitoring the situation and as always, will strive to do what is in the best interest of the Alaska Permanent Fund,” she said,

The statement noted the corporation, as a “global investor,” is “working closely with our partners and custodial bank to monitor the developing situation in Ukraine and mitigate any issues associated with sanctions. Exposure to Russia represents 0.2% of the Alaska Permanent Fund’s total assets under management.”

The total value of the fund, at the end of January, was about $81 billion.

Swanson, in response to questions Tuesday, said that as of Jan. 31, “$160 million of the Alaska Permanent Fund is invested in Russian stocks, bonds and private market investments. In light of recent market dislocations, valuations are volatile.”

The corporation is aware of “the developing situation with regards to Russia and Ukraine and is assessing impacts to the portfolio during these dynamic and unpredictable times,” she said, adding that the corporation is monitoring the events ”that are still unfolding with regards to Russia and is analyzing the appropriate response.”

In a letter urging divestment, five Senate Democrats in the minority caucus cited provisions of Alaska law that declare support for a so-called nuclear freeze policy. The lawmakers said those provisions require the state to take action to reduce the risk of nuclear war and said they believe those also mean implementing “a divestment plan from Russian government or state-owned companies.”

Two House members, Democratic Rep. Zack Fields and Republican Rep. David Nelson, sent a separate letter to the chair of the permanent fund corporation’s board urging divestment.

Democrat Les Gara and independent Bill Walker, who are each running for governor, expressed support for divestment.

Walker and his running mate, Heidi Drygas, in a statement Tuesday also said Congress should work to ensure that the next U.S. Navy base is located in Alaska, citing security interests.



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