ConocoPhillips Agrees To Cut Business Ties To Iran, Syria

ConocoPhillips agreed to cut its business connections with Iran and Syria, responding to pressure from two New York pension funds - but Halliburton and General Electric have yet to take similar measures.

New York City Comptroller William Thompson said ConocoPhillips will adopt a policy that limits the dealings of its domestic and foreign units with terrorist-linked nations, according to a press release issued Tuesday.

Representatives of New York firefighters and officers have said pension funds shouldn't be invested in companies doing business with nations sponsoring terrorism, especially after the Sept. 11, 2001 attacks.

ConocoPhillips assured Thompson it no longer engages in any business with Iran and, although it has a partial interest in a small gas-processing project in Syria, its contract will end as early as next year.

ConocoPhillips also pledged in a letter to strengthen oversight of its business dealings with sanctioned countries to ensure they are conducted "legally and within the spirit of the U.S. law," according to the release.

Thompson submitted shareholder proposals on behalf of the New York City Police and Fire Department pension funds with ConocoPhillips, Halliburton and General Electric early last year. It requested the companies' shareholders vote to create a board of directors committee to review each corporation's "potential financial and reputational risks."

In the case of ConocoPhillips, Thompson was troubled by its business ties with Iran and Syria through its U.K. unit, Conoco Ltd.

Thompson said Halliburton and General Electric haven't acted on its proposals yet. He recently resubmitted a proposal with Halliburton and expects to do the same with General Electric later this year.

In the next few months, Thompson said he plans to expand efforts to "increase pressure to ensure responsible relationships" by companies with other nations.

New York's police fund has $25.4 million in holdings with ConocoPhillips, while the fire fund has $9.4 million invested. The city's five pension funds have more than $164 million in holdings with the Houston-based energy company.