Photo Credit: Hossam el-Hamalawy
Activist Ramy Shaath in Cairo announcing the launch of BDS campaign against Israel, April 20, 2015.
Morningstar, a financial services firm headquartered in Chicago, in late December, hired the law firm of White & Case to investigate the pro-BDS practices of its subsidiary, Sustainalytics, two weeks ahead of a decision by the Illinois Investment Policy Board to blacklist it. The move would have barred Morningstar as well from Illinois’ state pension funds.
Andrew Lappin, who chairs the Illinois board’s Committee on Israel Boycott Restrictions, announced during a December 22 meeting whose minutes were obtained by JTA: “We would be wholly justified in adding Morningstar to the state’s list of prohibited investments today.”
Julie Hammerman, CEO of Jlens, an investor network that serves as a bridge between the Jewish community and socially responsible companies, told JTA in an email that “by its purchase of Sustainalytics in 2020, Morningstar has joined the anti-Israel and antisemitic boycott, divest, sanction movement, and is profiting from and promoting products and services that discriminate against and promote divestiture from Israel.”
In January 2021, JLens placed Morningstar on its Do Not Invest list because it supported BDS. A JLens analysis of Morningstar revealed that in 2020, Morningstar purchased the Netherland-based, allegedly pro-BDS Sustainalytics, which a year earlier, in 2019, acquired GES International, a Swedish company that’s also being accused of advancing the cause of BDS.
JLens declared at the time that its “over $100 million in assets established by Jewish institutional investors” would not go to buying “shares of Morningstar (MORN) until such time as JLens can determine the company no longer engages in nor profits from economic warfare activities against Israel. JLens does not offer an opinion as to whether the business activities of Morningstar are in violation of US anti-BDS laws.”
Chairman Lappin was pleased by Morningstar’s announcement of a third-party investigation of its subsidiary’s alleged anti-Israel policy, calling it “a striking departure from its public statements over the past year.” He consequently agreed to delay his committee’s decision regarding Illinois’ dealing with Morningstar until March when the board will receive the results of White & Case’s probe.