BlackRock’s chief booed by UK activist investor for not being ESG enough

Autor: Article based upon analysis from Reuters Breakingviews | Link: BlackRock’s activist investor fights passive tide
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Bluebell Capital Partners has its eyes on BlackRock chief Larry Fink over what has been termed his “apparent hypocrisy” over environmental, social, and governance (ESG) investment criteria.

Although already expressing its concerns on the matter in November, the UK activist investor only on Tuesday released to the media the letter it sent to the asset manager at that time.

Basically, BlackRock’s chief is under pressure to resign because he has changed positions several times on investing in thermal coal production.

And that happens to be in direct contradiction to Fink’s heavily publicized sustainability pledges.

Also, according to Reuters, another reason for discontent would be BlackRock’s failure to back Bluebell’s campaigns at least on four occasions.

As a shareholder, Bluebell has about a 0.01% stake in BlackRock, which manages roughly $8.5 trillion in assets, including those of more than 35 million Americans, handling several pension funds in both the public and private sectors.

Others also accuse Fink of not being ESG enough, like New York City’s comptroller, who’s threatening to re-evaluate its relationship with the world’s largest asset manager.

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Bluebell already has a track record of unseating CEOs of major companies, like Emanuel Faber, the chairman of Danone, back in March 2021.

Nonetheless, others are accusing Fink of being too progressive, like Florida’s CFO, who plans to rip $2 billion out of BlackRock for that reason.

The asset manager could be taught to challenge, especially due to its good financial position.

BlackRock’s shares have climbed more than 40% in three years, triple the performance of the S&P 500 Financials index.

Also, BlackRock funds attracted nearly $17 billion of new money in the third quarter, even as markets wobbled.

Fink’s firm grip on the company though, being both chair and CEO, is not a very healthy way of management, concentrating powers that are better kept apart.

So far, any speculation over Fink’s forced departure has not affected the share price. This may be a reflection of the likelihood of Fink being ousted is pretty low.