- See also Disinvestment.
In finance and economics, divestment or divestiture is the reduction of some kind of asset for financial, ethical, or political objectives or sale of an existing business by a firm. A divestment is the opposite of an investment.
Firms may have several motives for divestitures:
- First, a firm may divest (sell) businesses that are not part of its core operations so that it can focus on what it does best. For example, Eastman Kodak, Ford Motor Company, Future Group and many other firms have sold various businesses that were not closely related to their core businesses.
- A second motive for divestitures is to obtain funds. Divestitures generate funds for the firm because it is selling one of its businesses in exchange for cash. For example, CSX Corporation made divestitures to focus on its core railroad business and also to obtain funds so that it could pay off some of its existing debt.
- A third motive for divesting is that a firm's "break-up" value is sometimes believed to be greater than the value of the firm as a whole. In other words, the sum of a firm's individual asset liquidation values exceeds the market value of the firm's combined assets. This encourages firms to sell off what would be worth more when liquidated than when retained.
- A fourth motive to divest a part of a firm may be to create stability. Philips, for example, divested its chip division called NXP because the chip market was so volatile and unpredictable that NXP was responsible for the majority of Philips's stock fluctuations while it represented only a very small part of Philips NV.
- A fifth motive for firms to divest a part of the company is that a division is under-performing or even failing.
- A sixth reason to divest could be forced on to the firm by the regulatory authorities, for example in order to create competition.
- A seventh reason is pressure from shareholders for social reasons (sometimes also called Disinvestment). Historical example: there was a movement to divest from companies who dealt with apartheid South Africa, see Disinvestment from South Africa. Recent examples: divestment from Global Climate Coalition members and fossil fuels (similar to boycott).
Often the term is used as a means to grow financially in which a company sells off a business unit in order to focus their resources on a market it judges to be more profitable, or promising. Sometimes, such an action can be a spin-off. (For the United States: Divestment of certain parts of a company can occur when required by the Federal Trade Commission before a merger with another firm is approved. A company can divest assets to wholly owned subsidiaries.)
Some firms are using technology to facilitate the process of divesting some divisions. They post the information about any division that they wish to sell on their website so that it is available to any firm that may be interested in buying the division. For example, Alcoa has established an online showroom of the divisions that are for sale. By communicating the information online, Alcoa has reduced its hotel, travel, and meeting expenses.
See also disinvestment
The term "Divestment Campaign" was first used in the 1980s, most commonly in the United States, to refer to the use of a concerted economic boycott designed to pressure the government of South Africa into abolishing its policy of apartheid. Since then, divestment campaigns have focused on countries and companies for their policies.
Major Companies targeted through divestment campaigns in the United States have included:
- Tobacco industry 12
- Arms trade 34
- Global Climate Coalition members - Ford, General Motors, Texaco, Southern Company, Exxon, and other corporate members of the Global Climate Coalition -- an industry group opposing the Kyoto Protocol -- were the target of a national divestment campaign run by Ozone Action in 2000. According to the New York Times, when Ford Motor Company left the coalition, it was “the latest sign of divisions within heavy industry over how to respond to global warming.” 5 After that, between December, 1999 and early March, 2000, the GCC was deserted by Daimler-Chrysler, Texaco, the Southern Company and General Motors.6 The organization closed in 2002, or in their own words, 'deactivated'. People associated with the campaign were John Passacantando, who served as the Executive Director of Ozone Action, and Phil Radford, the then Field Director of the organization. Both men later served as the Executive Director of Greenpeace7
- Fossil fuels industry 89
- Consolidation (business)
- Corporate social responsibility
- Divestment campaign
- Financial economics
- Tax resistance
- "Ford Announces Its Withdrawal From Global Climate Coalition". New York Times. Retrieved 2013-07-21.
- "GCC Suffers Technical Knockout, Industry defections decimate Global Climate Coalition".
- "Canvassing Works". Canvassing Works. Retrieved 2013-07-19.
- Jeff Madura (2007). Introduction to Business, Fourth Edition. USA: Thomson South-Western. ISBN 0-324-36079-7.