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Commissioner Steve Novick

Official Website for Commissioner Steve Novick

Phone: 503-823-4682

fax: 503-823-4019

1221 SW 4th Ave. Suite 210, Portland, OR 97204

City of Portland Begins Rollback of Investments in Wal-Mart

PORTLAND, OR (May 15, 2014)— The City of Portland reached a milestone as the first of five holdings in city-owned Wal-Mart bonds will mature, reducing the City’s direct investment in the company by 25 percent, or $9 million. This is the first time a Wal-Mart investment will mature—and thus leave the portfolio—since the Portland City Council adopted socially responsible investment principles in October 2013.

Introduced by Commissioner Novick, the City Council’s resolution prohibits the City Treasurer from making any new Wal-Mart purchases. This means that as the existing bonds held by the City mature, its investment in Wal-Mart will discontinue. The last of the City’s Wal-Mart bonds will mature in April 2016, at which point the City will have eliminated a total of $36 million invested in the company as of October 2013.

Commissioner Novick will be available to discuss and take questions about this issue at a press conference on Thursday, May 15 at 11AM in front of City Hall. He will be joined by representatives from United Food and Commercial Workers Local 555, the OUR Wal-Mart campaign, and Pastor Tara Wilkins from Bridgeport United Church of Christ.

In addition to prohibiting the purchase of additional Wal-Mart bonds, the City Council’s resolution created a temporary committee charged with advising Council about how to implement its socially responsible investment principles. The committee will report back to Council later this year. The principles adopted by Council include health and environmental concerns, abusive labor practices, and corrupt corporate ethic and governance, among others.

“From what I can tell, no other U.S. city has looked at socially responsible investing in quite the same way as Portland,” said Commissioner Novick.

He added, “I’m hopeful other cities and states take note and adopt similar investment principles to hold companies accountable and align our investment policies with our values.”

The City of Portland’s entire investment portfolio ranges from $940 million to $1.29 billion and averages about $1.08 billion during the year. In Fiscal Year 2013, the City’s investment portfolio generated about $4.3 million in earnings, which were distributed to all City funds. Until today, Wal-Mart holdings were about 2.9% of the City’s investment portfolio.

“A company’s policies and practices have a direct impact on families and individuals living and working in Portland,” said UFCW representative Bob Marshall. “A city’s investments should reflect the values of its taxpayers, and Wal-Mart is consistently out of step of Portland values.”  

Under the resolution passed last October, Council must extend the “Do Not Buy” list prohibiting any new investments in Wal-Mart by the close of 2014.  Commissioner Novick plans to bring a resolution to extend the policy.

Additionally, the resolution passed last fall requires the temporary advisory committee to conclude its work by July 31, 2014. Commissioner Novick looks forward to reviewing the committee’s recommendation and bringing to Council the committee’s report as well as proposal for a permanent process to implement the principles for socially responsible investment.

Contact: Chris Warner

Phone: 503-823-4682