KPERS’ trustees vote to block future investments in Russian securities


The Kansas Public Employees Retirement System’s board of trustees voted to prohibit future investment in Russian securities in response to the invasion of Ukraine. About $35 million of KPERS’ $25 billion portfolio is in Russian securities. (Getty Images)


TOPEKA — Trustees of the Kansas Public Employees Retirement System voted Friday to prohibit any new investment of pension assets in Russian securities.


James Zakoura, chairman of the KPERS board, said the action was taken as a result of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. The military conflict also created unacceptable market risks, he said.


“As trustees, our first duty is to KPERS’ members,” Zakoura said. “Our focus is always to act in their best interest and to protect the trust fund.”


He said members of the retirement system “sent to us a strong and clear message” that the board should halt investments in Russia in response to the invasion.


KPERS’ trustees intend to comply with any U.S. government sanctions or legislation adopted by the Kansas Legislature regarding the military conflict in Ukraine, Zakoura said.


The pension system has more than 325,000 members and manages a portfolio containing $25 billion in assets.


As of Feb. 25, KPERS reported, the system held $35.9 million in publicly traded Russian stock that was part of an international equity fund. That amounted to 0.14% of KPERS’ overall investment portfolio.


Kansas state Treasurer Lynn Rogers, who is a member of the KPERS board of trustees, recently recommended the system divest of Russian securities.


This article was used by permission from the Kansas Reflector. The Kansas Reflector is a non-profit online news organization serving Kansas. For more information on the organization, go to its website at www.kansasreflector.com.

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