Western invests in tobacco, weapons and oil companies. Here’s how it works

Western's Investments

Western has hundreds of millions of dollars in investments, but where does it all go? That was the question we asked and now have a (partial) answer to.

Western has a diverse array of investments, from equities to bonds to real estate, spread over many portfolios. Equity investments, which account for 65.8 per cent of its total operating and endowment portfolio, are managed by third party investment companies and Western does not have direct control over these investments. They are done mainly through indexes, with many companies being invested in at the same time.

The investments Western has are in line with what other universities do and what investment experts advise for best returns. These investments change regularly, meaning the University may not currently have money in the list of companies we were provided on March 11.

We have identified just a handful of the hundreds of companies that Western has indirectly invested in and are presenting them here because these same companies and category of companies have raised concerns on other campuses. York University, for example, divested this past year from some of the same arms manufacturers that Western invests in. The University of Toronto joined 23 other North American universities in divesting from tobacco in 2007, leading Canadian universities in that policy change. In response to petitions, Dalhousie University and the University of Toronto have both created reports on the viability of divesting from oil in the past two years as calls for oil divestment have swept across Canadian campuses.

Ethical investments are a tricky business and there are arguments on both sides. On the one side, there is outrage at universities indirectly supporting “unethical” companies or industries. On the other side, experts have argued that ethical investing is both not possible and not viable even if you tried.

So what do you think? Should Western have a defined policy regarding its investments and any ethical responsibility the University might have? Or should we let the experts get the best possible returns no matter the possible ethical qualms Western community members might have?

Sources (with links)

FULL LIST OF COMPANIES WESTERN INVESTS IN

Official sources:

http://www.uwo.ca/univsec/pdf/policies_procedures/section2/mapp226.pdf

https://www.uwo.ca/finance/treasury/investing.html

http://www.uwo.ca/univsec/board/meetings/agendas_minutes.html

https://www.uwo.ca/finance/forms/docs/treasury/OE%20Fund%20Manager%20Lineup%20as%20of%20March%202015%20with%20logos.pdf

http://www.president.utoronto.ca/secure-content/uploads/2015/12/Report-of-the-Advisory-Committee-on-Divestment-from-Fossil-Fuels-December-2015.pdf

http://www.president.utoronto.ca/report-of-the-advisory-committee-on-divestment-from-fossil-fuels

http://www.dal.ca/dept/university_secretariat/board_of_governors/meetings/fossil-fuel-divestment-statement.html

http://www.samm.dsca.mil/ap1item/t04-0154

http://www.textron.com/about/company/index.php

http://www.altria.com/About-Altria/At-A-Glance/Pages/default.aspx?src=topnav

https://www.linkedin.com/company/northrop-grumman-corporation

http://www.kunlun.com.hk/html/ab_profile.php

http://www.investopedia.com/terms/m/marketcapitalization.asp

http://www.investopedia.com/terms/i/indexfund.asp

http://www.ubcimant.ca/reports/index.php

https://www.jt.com/media/press_releases/2015/pdf/20150929_E01.pdf

http://ca.spindices.com/indices/equity/sp-400

http://www.pmi.com/eng/our_products/pages/our_brands.aspx

http://www.jti.com/brands/

http://www.reynoldsamerican.com/About-Us/Who-We-Are/Our-Operating-Companies/default.aspx

http://www.lockheedmartin.ca/us/what-we-do/aerospace-defense/aircraft.html

http://www.raytheon.com/capabilities/products/tomahawk/

http://www.northropgrumman.com/Capabilities/MissileSystems/Pages/default.aspx

http://www.baesystems.com/en/product/radford-army-ammunition-plant

http://corporate.exxonmobil.com/en/company/about-us

https://www.ssga.com/global/en/about-us/overview.html

http://www.ftinstitutional.ca/en_CA/institutional/company

https://www.mfs.com/subs/home-microsite/what-we-do.html

Media sources:

http://www.theglobeandmail.com/news/national/u-of-t-to-divest-10-million-in-tobacco-stock/article17994632/

http://www.theglobeandmail.com/news/british-columbia/ubc-board-of-governors-votes-against-divestment-from-fossil-fuel-industry/article28760064/

http://www.macleans.ca/education/uniandcollege/universities-shouldnt-profit/

http://www.macleans.ca/education/uniandcollege/ethical-investing-isnt-eas/

http://thetyee.ca/News/2016/01/12/Weapons-Divestment/

http://thevarsity.ca/2016/01/11/students-fire-up-for-utsu-sgm/

http://www.excal.on.ca/university-drops-two-weapons-manufacturers-only-one-remains/

http://www.motherjones.com/politics/2011/01/lockheed-martin-shadowing-you

http://www.financialpost.com/scripts/story.html?id=d70e1271-3340-4bcc-8e74-32bde9290c0b&k=3643

http://www.theguardian.com/environment/2015/jul/15/exxon-mobil-gave-millions-climate-denying-lawmakers

http://www.reuters.com/article/us-textron-bombs-idUSBRE97J0ZF20130820

https://www.hrw.org/news/2015/05/03/yemen-saudi-led-airstrikes-used-cluster-munitions

http://www.universityaffairs.ca/news/news-article/canadas-universities-urged-to-embrace-ethical-investing/

http://www.universityaffairs.ca/news/news-article/activists-want-universities-to-stop-investing-in-fossil-fuels/