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HomeMarketNorth Carolina Treasurer Calls for BlackRock CEO Fink's Ouster Over ESG Stance

North Carolina Treasurer Calls for BlackRock CEO Fink’s Ouster Over ESG Stance

Larry Fink, chairman and CEO of BlackRock.

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Ludovic MARIN / AFP via Getty Images

North Carolina’s state treasurer is the latest to call for the ouster of
BlackRock
CEO Larry Fink over the asset manager’s stance on environmental, social, and governance investing.

Dale R. Folwell, in a letter to the board of BlackRock (ticker: BLK), wrote that Fink’s “focus on ESG is not a focus on returns.”

“As keeper of the public purse my duty is to manage our investments to ensure that the best interests of those that teach, protect and serve, as well as of our retirees, are always paramount,” Folwell said.

“Unfortunately, Mr. Fink’s political agenda has gotten in the way of his same fiduciary duty. A focus on ESG is not a focus on returns, and potentially could force us to violate our own fiduciary duty of loyalty,” Folwell added.

Folwell closed his letter by saying he has “lost confidence” in Fink’s leadership “to responsibly steward investors’ resources.” Folwell requested that Fink “resign or be removed from the asset management firm’s leadership team immediately.”

Folwell said North Carolina’s retirement system has about $14 billion invested through
BlackRock
“in various active but mostly passive funds at the lowest possible investment fees.” He also said North Carolina has about $55 million “passively invested in BlackRock stocks or bonds.”

Folwell, a Republican, didn’t say whether North Carolina would pull its investments from BlackRock. Republican states like Florida and Louisiana have pulled or proposed to withdraw their investments.

Barron’s has asked for comment from BlackRock on Folwell’s call for Fink’s resignation.

Folwell’s letter follows activist hedge fund Bluebell Capital Partners’ urging of BlackRock’s board to remove the CEO. Bluebell Capital, a $250 million hedge fund, said BlackRock has failed to fulfill its commitments under ESG principles, partly because it continues to invest in coal-producing companies such as
Glencore.

Bluebell also said that while it has asked BlackRock, the world’s largest asset manager, to support its campaigns against Belgian chemical company Solvay over environmental pollution, the asset manager has taken no action on that and other ESG-related fronts.

A BlackRock spokesperson, in an email to Barron’s earlier this week, said the asset manager didn’t support Bluebell Capital’s campaigns “as we didn’t consider them to be in the best economic interests of our clients.”

Shares of BlackRock closed Friday at $706.95 each, up 0.5%. BlackRock stock has fallen 22.8% so far this year.

Write to Joe Woelfel at joseph.woelfel@barrons.com

Credit: marketwatch.com

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