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Divestment, in finance, refers to the process of selling off assets, subsidiaries, or investments, often for the purpose of reallocation of resources or because the assets are not performing well. It’s a strategy used by companies to reduce their portfolio for various tactical reasons such as improving their financial health, focusing on their core business, or complying with regulatory requirements. Divestments can also be seen as a method for raising capital, or as a social and political tool, particularly in instances of widespread disinvestment from sectors deemed harmful.


The phonetic spelling of the word “Divestment” is /dɪˈvɛst mənt/.

Key Takeaways

  1. Divestment can be a strategic move for companies, allowing them to offload divisions or assets that no longer align with their core business or that may be underperforming or draining resources.
  2. From an ethical standpoint, divestment is also used as a tool for change. Investors might use divestment to put pressure on companies or industries that they deem as having harmful social or environmental impacts.
  3. While divestment can free up resources and possibly boost a company’s short-term financial performance, it can also lead to loss of potential future revenues or relinquish control over strategic assets. So, divestment decisions must be made carefully, considering both short-term and long-term impacts.


Divestment is an important business/finance term because it is a strategic move companies use to maximize their efficiency and profitability. When a business chooses to divest, it sells, liquidates, or otherwise disposes of a business unit, subsidiary, or asset. This could be an underperforming segment, a non-core operation, or any part that no longer aligns with the firm’s overall strategy. Divestment helps to generate cash, streamline operations, pay off debt, and refocus resources on core, high-growth areas of the business. Therefore, understanding divestment provides insight into a company’s strategic priorities and financial health, and the process can significantly impact shareholders, employees, and the industry as a whole.


Divestment, in financial and business terms, is a strategic move made by a company where it chooses to sell, liquidate, or dispose of a subsidiary, asset or business division. This decision is often made to enhance the company’s financial health, optimize resources or to refocus on its core operations. Divestment could help an organization improve its profit margins by shedding non-performing assets, decreasing debt, and streamlining operations. Companies might also choose to divest if certain parts of their portfolio don’t align with their long-term strategic objectives.

The purpose of divestment can extend to social or political reasoning as well. For instance, some companies choose divestment as a means to exert economic pressure for policy change, a classic example being the widespread divestment from South Africa during Apartheid. On an individual level, investors may choose to divest their holdings in a certain company for ethical or environmental reasons, or because they see potential risks that outweigh potential profits. Thus, divestment can be seen as a tool used not only for financial or strategic planning but also as a means of influencers driving social, political, and environmental change.


1. BP Solar Divestment: In 2011, the energy company BP decided to divest from its solar power business, BP Solar. The decision came due to the financial struggles this particular business was facing as the price for photovoltaic cells was dropping fast, making competition too fierce. By divesting, BP was able to refocus its investments on other, potentially more profitable, endeavors.

2. General Electric’s Divestment from NBCUniversal: In 2013, GE sold its remaining stake in NBCUniversal to Comcast Corp, completing a divestment process that started in 2009. The divestment allowed GE to focus more on its industrial sectors, including energy, aviation, and healthcare equipment, which were more central to its business strategy.

3. Disney’s Divestment from the Gaming Industry: In 2016, The Walt Disney Company decided to divest from the console gaming industry, shutting down its self-publishing console game division, Disney Interactive Studios. The business was considered non-strategic and was underperforming. By divesting, Disney was able to allocate more resources to other sectors of its business.

Frequently Asked Questions(FAQ)

What is Divestment?

Divestment, in finance and economics, refers to the process of selling off subsidiary businesses, investments, or assets. It is often undertaken to increase financial capital, improve operational efficiency, or refocus a company’s overall objectives.

Why might a company choose to divest?

Companies may choose to divest for a variety of reasons, including: reducing debt, focusing on core operations, responding to changes in the marketplace, getting rid of underperforming assets, or raising capital.

Can divestment lead to a loss for a company?

While divestment can generate capital, it can also result in a loss if the company sells the asset or subsidiary for less than its book value. It’s essential for companies to critically evaluate the consequences before making such decisions.

Does divestment have to involve complete disposition of assets?

No, divestment could either entail complete disposition or just a partial reduction of an investment.

How does divestment affect shareholders?

The impact on shareholders depends on how the divestment proceeds are used and the overall effect of the divestment on the company’s profitability. If the divestment strengthens the core business or reduces losses, it could have a positive impact on shareholder value.

Is divestment considered a negative term in business?

Not necessarily. While divestment might be caused by negative factors like poor performance, it can also be a strategic move meant to streamline business operations or to refocus on core business areas.

What’s the difference between divestment and investment?

Investment involves putting capital into assets, subsidiary businesses, or projects in the expectation of gaining a return. On the other hand, divestment involves the selling of such investments. They are essentially opposite actions.

Can divestment be used as a political or social tool?

Yes, divestment is also used as a social or political strategy, generally meant to protest or place economic pressure on certain business sectors or countries. For example, the fossil fuel divestment movement encourages individuals and institutions to stop investing in fossil fuel-based companies.

Related Finance Terms

  • Capital Reallocation: The process of shifting investments to focus on more profitable or promising areas, often a reason behind divestment.
  • Portfolio Restructuring: An adjustment of a company’s investment portfolio, which may involve divestment of certain holdings.
  • Non-core Assets: Assets not integral to a business’s primary operations, often the target of divestment.
  • Mergers and Acquisitions (M&A): Business activities involving the consolidation or selling of companies or assets, often related to divestment strategies.
  • Spin-off: A type of divestment where a company creates a new, independent entity from an existing part of the business.

Sources for More Information

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