Daily News: May 29, 2007

(May 29, 2007) — As part of its socially responsible investment policy, Brethren Benefit Trust (BBT) each year requests Boston Common Asset Management, one of its investment managers, to compile a list of the US military’s top 25 defense contractors based on the size of contracts awarded by the Department of Defense. As directed by BBT’s investment guidelines, the firms on this list are then automatically screened from BBT’s investment portfolios by the investment managers.

Since some of the firms on the list are privately owned and not within BBT’s potential investment universe, BBT’s Board of Directors voted in April to not invest in the top 25 defense contractors that are publicly traded companies. Tightening this social screen has meant that five privately held companies were dropped from BBT’s list and five new names were added.

Screening requires that BBT’s managers drop the companies from BBT’s portfolio and either replace them with another firm in the market sector or allow the portfolio to become less weighted in that market sector.

Many of the names on the list are readily identifiable as part of the American war machine, such as General Dynamics, but some of the names are not immediately associated with the US military, most notably FedEx. FedEx primarily contracts with the Department of Defense to provide airlift cargo services. The US military contracts heavily with commercial carriers–in the first Gulf War, according to Boston Common, 27 percent of all cargo was shipped by commercial carriers.

FedEx also provides the military with “White Glove Services” to transport sensitive materials that need to be carefully guarded and tracked throughout the shipping process. FedEx’s inclusion on the list gives evidence to the ubiquitous reach of the US military-industrial complex.

Since BBT believes strongly that it should screen out FedEx from its investments because it is a top defense contractor, BBT cannot in good conscience patronize FedEx for BBT’s regular office needs. BBT will no longer use FedEx as its package-delivery service of choice.

The top 25 publically owned defense contractors:
  • Lockheed Martin
  • Boeing Company
  • Northrop Grumman
  • General Dynamics
  • Raytheon
  • Halliburton
  • L-3 Communications Holding
  • BAE Systems PLC
  • United Technologies
  • Computer Sciences
  • Humana
  • ITT Industries
  • General Electric Company
  • Health Net
  • Electronic Data Systems
  • Public Warehousing
  • Honeywell International
  • Textron
  • Armor Holdings
  • URS
  • Amerisource Bergen
  • Harris
  • FedEx
  • British Petroleum PLC
  • Exxon Mobil

–Jay Wittmeyer is manager of publications for Brethren Benefit Trust. This article is reprinted from the second quarter 2007 issue of “BBT Benefit News.”


The Church of the Brethren Newsline is produced by Cheryl Brumbaugh-Cayford, director of news services for the Church of the Brethren General Board. Newsline stories may be reprinted if Newsline is cited as the source. To receive Newsline by e-mail go to http://listserver.emountain.net/mailman/listinfo/newsline. Submit news to the editor at cobnews@brethren.org. For more Church of the Brethren news and features, subscribe to “Messenger” magazine; call 800-323-8039 ext. 247.


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