Tuesday, April 23, 2024

Michigan State University holds no direct Russian investments

March 22, 2022
<p>Illustration of money.</p>

Illustration of money.

Photo by Madison Echlin | The State News

While the state of Michigan and other universities like the University of Michigan are divesting from direct Russian investments, MSU will not have to divest. According to Deputy Spokesperson Dan Olsen, MSU does not directly hold any Russian equity, Russian sovereign debt or Russian rubles.

MSU does hold hedge fund and private equity portfolios which are run by fund managers who run stock picks, but MSU has not found significant investments in Russia.

“We have been checking with fund managers and are not aware of any significant exposures,” Olsen said in a statement. “Those portfolio companies with potential exposures are actively exiting those positions, closing operations in Russia and complying with all appropriate sanctions.”

Melanie Foster, Chair of the Budget and Finance Committee for the Board of Trustees, said some members worked with Chief Investment Officer Phillip Zecher to ensure oversight of the university endowment. 

“The intent of the endowment is to have the most optimal return we can so that we can provide more funds for multitudes of purposes at the university (like) scholarships, academic support,” Foster said. “The endowment is driven by decisions that optimize returns for the portfolio.”

Foster helped Zecher investigate the potential exposures within the endowment. 

“We spent the last couple months doing a deep dive on any exposure to Russian investments which I’m happy to say there are none,” Foster said. “What there might’ve been was divested prior to the invasion of Ukraine and we do not have any Russian positions.”

Foster said fund managers are driven by their own economic forecasting and the decision to pull from Russia is macroeconomics at work.

“The possibility of unrest (or) war in Ukraine was looming and as a result of that, Western investors are getting very skittish on Russian investments and began divesting and what they may have had probably turned to zero even recently,” Foster said.

President Samuel L. Stanley Jr. also sent a letter of support to the Spartan community, emphasizing other actions MSU leaders are taking. Foster said the decision to investigate and ensure MSU holds no significant exposure to Russian investments was fundamentally important.

“That’s something we’ve focused on and it’s at the forefront right now with the world and we can’t be a part of that,” Foster said. “We can’t be a part of helping Russia.”

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