Corporate Squeeze

More than 350 American corporations and U.S. banks hold investments and loans in South Africa. Activist stockholders and their supporters have tried, generally unsuccessfully, to persuade such firms to quit doing business there. Where that has failed, the movement has pushed a tactic termed divestment. This involves pressuring public and private institutions to sell their stock in firms that invest in South Africa.

From South Africa's viewpoint, U.S. holdings loom large. American companies control nearly 70% of the nation's computer industry and one-half of its petroleum business. Yet from the U.S. perspective, the...

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