BlackRock comes under fire from London investor over ESG ‘hypocrisy’
London-based activist investor Bluebell Capital has set its sights on the world’s biggest asset manager BlackRock, calling for chief Larry Fink to be ousted over “hypocrisy” on environmental, social and governance issues.
Bluebell, which has around $250m in assets, said the $8tn New York-based asset manager had “alienated clients and attracted an undesired level of negative publicity” for its strategy on ESG.
Fink has attracted criticism in recent months after refusing to rule out further oil and coal investments and claiming it is not the place of the asset management giant to “engineer” a specific decarbonisation outcome, despite championing the ESG agenda in the past.
The firm has also come under fire from the opposite side in the US, however, with some lawmakers threatening boycotts for an overemphasis on the climate agenda and ESG goals.
In the letter to Fink sent last month but published yesterday, Bluebell said BlackRock had “been extremely vocal on the need for the asset management industry to make sustainability a ‘new standard for investing’”, but not backed up his claims with action.
”We are increasingly concerned about […] the reputational risk (including greenwashing risk) to which you have unreasonably exposed the Company potentially fuelling a gap between the ‘talk’ and the ‘walk’ on ESG investing,” Bluebell wrote.
The investor called for the Chairman and CEO role to now be split and a new chief appointed.
Blackrock hit back at the claims and said it had not supported a series of campaigns from the firm.
“In the past 18 months, Bluebell has waged a number of campaigns to promote their climate and governance agenda,” a BlackRock spokesman told Reuters.
“BlackRock Investment Stewardship did not support their campaigns as we did not consider them to be in the best economic interests of our clients.”