Trustees who oversee Kansas’ public employee retirement system voted on Friday to suspend future investment in Russian assets amid the country’s invasion of Ukraine.
While some board members initially pushed for a full divestment, others said they would prefer to focus on the future and noted that the fund’s current holdings in the country had anyway been largely liquidated, the Topeka Capital-Journal reported.
Kansas has invested $36 million in Russian stocks, as of February 25. This represents around 0.14% of the pension fund’s total investments. The investments are largely stakes in Russian companies but are not traded on the country’s stock exchange.
KPERS staff called the decision historic, saying it was the first time the board acted unilaterally for external reasons. In the past, instructions to remove investments from politically objectionable regimes came from the legislature.
Foreign investors cannot do business in Russia at this time, making it difficult to sell off any assets the state might hold. For that reason, KPERS Chief Investment Officer Elizabeth Miller noted that unraveling the fund’s investments in Russia was not fully possible for some time, meaning any formal divestment push would be largely symbolic.
“I don’t think it will have any practical effect,” she said.