CEOLarry Fink is escalating his leftist political agenda influence, exerted through his mega-investment firm BlackRock, to outright intimidation.
It began gently almost three years ago, with Fink urging several corporate CEOs in a letter to make “a positive contribution to society” beyond generating profit for shareholders, to “serve a social purpose.” The initiatives pressed most urgently addressed climate change risk and disclosure, and diversity initiatives.
The tone has gone from pleadings to threats, as outlined in BlackRock’s “2021 Stewardship Expectations,” issued a couple of weeks ago in advance of corporate annual meetings that will be held in the coming months. As reported by investment equity law firm Ropes & Gray, BlackRock has intensified its demands in pursuit of compliance with its priorities.
Among BlackRock’s plans:
“Broadening the universe of focus companies – from 440 to more than 1,000 – that it
For all the boasts and claims thatBlackRock CEO Larry Fink has made in recent years about the need for corporate “accountability” with regard to environmental, social, and governance (ESG) priorities, and that they are a better long-term investment prospect, he has consistently fallen short in the eyes of experts who evaluate those things.
First there was the academic study released in August that found that despite claims to the contrary by major financial firms – including BlackRock – that ESG factors did notinoculate investors against the stock market downturn that was attributed to the COVID crash of the global economy, nor did sustainability priorities aid in the subsequent limited recovery.
And now it turns out that one of BlackRock’s non-profiting investment priorities ballyhooed by Fink – climate change – is not all he cracks it up to be.
Mega-firm BlackRock and CEO Larry Fink have called greater attention to ESG, beginning early in 2018 with a letter to more than 1,000 publicly traded companies urging them to elevate issues such as climate change and diversity higher in their considerations as they go about their business.
“Society is demanding that companies, both public and private, serve a social purpose,” he wrote. “To prosper over time, every company must not only deliver financial performance, but also show how it makes a positive contribution to society.”
Following the U.S. Senate’s passage (by unanimous consent) in May of the Holding Foreign Companies Accountable Act, a special panel of top government financial regulators issued a report last week that also called for tougher rules in order for “non-cooperative” foreign companies to be allowed to be listed in the United States. The goal is to provide greater protection for investors in those companies, to meet minimal audit and transparency standards so that potential risks are better understood.
The President’s Working Group on Financial Markets specifically scrutinized the risks to investors posed by the Chinese government’s failure to allow access to the books of companies listed in the U.S. The group urged the Securities and Exchange Commission take steps to strengthen the listing standards.… Read More ➡
Apparently true to its word – or at least virtue-signaling a head fake in that direction – mega-investor BlackRock put some companies in its portfolio on notice that their efforts to address transparency and mitigation regarding “climate change” are insufficient.
The $6.5 trillion firm announced earlier this week in a report that it had warned 244 of those companies that they insufficiently address climate concerns, and that it had voted against resolutions and directors at 53 of them because of those shortcomings. It warned the other 191 companies they “risk voting action in 2021 if they do not make substantial progress,” according to the Financial Times.
BlackRock first announced its plans to increase scrutiny of its investments, with regard to climate, in January.
Some of the names on BlackRock’s naughty list include fossil fuel-concentrated industries like ExxonMobil, Volvo, Daimler, and coal company Peabody Energy.
Following an effort by National Legal and Policy Center to urge the world’s largest investment firm to divest its customers’ money from 137 companies based in communist China, two Senators have also turned up the pressure.
In a letter dated Monday, Republican Sens. Martha McSally and Kevin Cramer – of Arizona and North Dakota, respectively – asked BlackRock CEO Larry Fink to explain apparent inconsistencies in the company’s approach to managing its funds. Specifically, the senators wanted to know why BlackRock’s U.S. investments are held to a higher standard as it pertains to appeasing activist investors with a progressive agenda, as opposed to its holdings in foreign companies that do not comply with minimal legal and auditing standards.
Fink has led his firm into the decision-making of the U.S. companies where BlackRock has its investments, voting “on 18,758 shareholder proposals and participated in 2,269 shareholder … Read More ➡
Following the death of George Floyd at the hands of an out-of-control Minneapolis police officer, and demonstrations mixed with riots across the country, many American corporations weighed in with official statements or financial support for causes – or both.
Unfortunately the involvement of some put them more on the side of divisiveness than unity, at a time when the country needs the latter the most.
Ultimately many of the companies and/or their top-ranking officers got behind (again) the dubious narrative that there is “systemic racism” in law enforcement, and that minorities are disproportionately treated as suspects – or singled out for violent police tactics – more than whites. As Manhattan Institute fellow Heather Mac Donald and former US Attorney Andrew McCarthy explained earlier this week, citing very convincing statistics, the idea there is structural bias in policing is a myth.
The Wall Street Journal today published this letter from NLPC Chairman Peter Flaherty:
Pity the situation of BlackRock CEO Larry Fink, who finds himself being mau-maued by green activists at his annual stockholder meeting for not doing enough to disinvest from fossil-fuel companies.
One way he can expiate his sins is to disinvest in the 153 China-owned or controlled companies as our organization recently called on him to do. Besides covering up the pandemic spread in Wuhan, Communist China is a major human-rights abuser, “re-educating” Muslim Uighurs in prison camps, conducting digital surveillance of its citizens and cracking down on pro-democracy protesters in Hong Kong.
Apparently, neither Mr. Fink’s idea of moral and socially responsible investing nor that of his so-called “progressive” critics takes into account these human-rights issues. The sixth circle of Dante’s hell punishes hypocrisy.
President Trump said this morning in a Fox Business interview with Maria Bartiromo that he is “looking at” the question of Chinese companies listed on American exchanges. His comment came a day after National Legal and Policy Centerasked the CEO of BlackRock, the world’s largest asset manager, to divest its customers’ holdings in 137 Chinese companies listed on American stock exchanges.
Earlier this week, agencies of the United States government took a similar step. The Federal Retirement Thrift Investment Board, which manages retirement savings for government employees and military, announced that it would freeze its plan to invest in Chinese stocks this year. The decision came at the urging of officials in the Trump administration and from members of Congress, who do not want to see the communist nation rewarded with American investments following its mishandling and cover-up of the release … Read More ➡
In a letter to BlackRock Chairman and CEO Larry Fink, the National Legal and Policy Center (NLPC) today asked the firm to divest its customer’s money from the137 Chinese companies currently listed on American stock exchanges.
BlackRock recently divested itself of certain companies that produce thermal coal in response to demands by anti-fossil fuel activists. In the letter, NLPC Chairman Peter Flaherty cites this “precedent” and argues that Chinese companies “that manufacture equipment for Xi’s surveillance state or that are dominated by the People’s Liberation Army raise even bigger ethical questions.” Here is the full text of the letter:
Because BlackRock is the world’s largest asset manager and you have championed the principle of divestment as a moral necessity, we ask that you divest your managed funds from the 137 Chinese companies listed on the three American exchanges.
All are under the influence and ultimate control of the Communist … Read More ➡