Morningstar, a Chicago-based investment research firm placed Wednesday on Florida’s list of “scrutinized companies,” disputed that it supports efforts to boycott or sanction Israel — the reason Gov. Ron DeSantis and other state leaders gave for the listing.
“Morningstar does not support the anti-Israel BDS (boycott, divestment and sanctions) campaign; it never has, and it never will,” the company said in a statement.
DeSantis, Attorney General Ashley Moody and state Chief Financial Officer Jimmy Patronis decided Wednesday to place Morningstar on the list, which prohibits investments involving the state’s retirement system.
The move gave Morningstar 90 days to end actions that are considered part of the BDS movement, which is critical of Israel’s treatment of Palestinians.
Morningstar last year issued a news release repudiating the BDS campaign.
That release also announced “additional” measures to address anti-Israel bias in environmental, social and governance ratings from its subsidiary Sustainalytics.
On Wednesday, Morningstar said the company has “enhanced our approach to using sources, clarified the human rights guidance that underpins aspects of our research, unified oversight of our methodologies, and improved the language we use.”
It also said, “Following questions about whether some of Sustainalytics’ ESG (environmental, social and governance) research reflected biases, we engaged with organizations to understand the concerns and underwent a thorough, independent review of our research on the sensitive area of human rights,” the company said. “That process, while long, was a substantive and productive one that has made our research stronger and more consistent for the investors we serve.”
Morningstar said it expects two experts on Israeli-Palestinian issues to provide further recommendations during the first half of 2024.
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