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Less than three months after Harvard announced plans to sell its stock in the Exxon Corporation, the oil company says it is pulling out of South Africa because of worsening economic conditions in the white-ruled country.
Harvard University Treasurer Roderick MacDougall '51 said yesterday that he did not know whether Harvard would reinvest in the Exxon Corporation.
University officials said in early October that they were selling Harvard's $35.4 million in Exxon stock and bonds because of a South African law that requires companies within the nation's borders to sell oil on demand to government agencies, including the police forces.
Exxon announced on December 31 that it will sell all of its South African assents--about $10 million. While the company does not refine petroleum or process chemicals in the country, two of its subsidiaries do produce these products. Exxon employed about 200 South Africans, who accounted for roughly 2 percent of Exxon's $93.2 billion in revenues. Because the company could not find a local buyer for its affiliates, a trust was established to continue operations.
While many companies have disengaged themselves from South Africa, MacDougall said that "it has been impossible to trace divestment actions to [companies'] pullouts."
He also said he saw no reason for a change in Harvard's investment policy in light of the pullout, saying that "Exxon has been a responsible employer and citizen in the battle against apartheid."
The University's announcement on October 3 included plans to sell $160 million worth of investments in 8 corporations including Exxon. The other seven--Royal Dutch Petroleum/Shell, the Chevron Corporation, Ford Motor Co., Texaco, Mobil Oil, Phelps Dodge, and Schlumberger, Inc.--retain links to South Africa. Harvard's endowment still includes approximately $367 million worth of stocks and bonds in companies with South African operations.
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