Letter to the Editor: In response to Trustee Eisenson’s Response

To the Record,

I’d like to respond to the April 19 letter from Michael Eisenson (“Letter to the Editor: Responding to Board’s conflicts of interest,” April 19, 2017) commenting on the April 12 opinion piece about disinvestment and potential trustee conflicts of interest by David Tobis and me. (“On conflicts of interest,” April 12, 2017).

Our piece suggested Mr. Eisenson and some other trustees should stand aside on votes for or against the sale of the oil and gas assets in the College’s endowment because they had financial interests in the oil and gas industry.

In response, Mr. Eisenson rose to the defense of two fellow trustees with potential conflicts of interest, but not himself, despite the fact we reported he had publicly opposed divestment last year on the same day his private equity firm, Charlesbank, announced the sale of a stake in an oil and asphalt services company called Blueknight. Why did he not discuss Blueknight?

Mr. Eisenson went on to discount our piece by saying it “[re-visited] issues that the board addressed in detail back in 2015”.

However, in 2015, Mr. Eisenson was investing in a company called RGL Management which, according to his own firm’s website, “is a leading supplier of technical products required for production in Canadian oil sands and other heavy oil reserves.” Since neither Mr. Eisenson nor the board made any mention of RGL Management back then, could he or another trustee comment on that potential conflict of interest now?

As for the supposed “serious misunderstanding of the capital markets” in our opinion piece, I would be happy to debate Mr. Eisenson on how the capital markets work in relation to his own firm; Viking Global, the hedge fund run by trustee O. Andreas Halvorsen ’86; other financial firms to which trustees are linked; and the potential conflicts of interest that arise as a result. I’d also be happy to discuss the issues raised by trustee Mark Tercek ’79 and his move to The Nature Conservancy after a career at Goldman Sachs.

Peter Koenig ’66