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Tags: blackrock | environmental social governance | esg | larry fink | ron desantis

BlackRock CEO 'Ashamed' of 'Weaponized' ESG

BlackRock CEO 'Ashamed' of 'Weaponized' ESG
BlackRock CEO Larry Fink speaks at the Clinton Global Initiative in New York. (Julia Nikhinson/AP/2022 file photo)

By    |   Monday, 26 June 2023 10:29 AM EDT

BlackRock CEO Larry Fink said he is no longer going to use the term ESG because it has become “weaponized.”

Fink made the remarks about environmental, social and governance investing at the Aspen Ideas Festival Sunday, Front Page magazine reports.

“I’m ashamed of being part of this conversation,” Fink said.

“I’m not going to use the word ESG because it’s been misused by the far left and the far right,” Fink said.

But Fink said dropping references to ESG would not change BlackRock's stance on discussing with companies it has stakes in about decarbonization, corporate governance and social issues.

On the issue of climate change, BlackRock has sought to strike a balance, continuing to invest in fossil fuel companies while encouraging them to adopt green energy. BlackRock forecasts that by 2030 at least 75% of its investments will be in companies with set targets to cut greenhouse gas emissions.

Fink also admitted that Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis’ decision to pull $2 billion in assets hurt his firm.

However, Fink added that BlackRock had its best year in 2022, with net flows of $200 billion from U.S. clients.

Later in the conversation, Fink backtracked his remarks, saying, “I never said I was ashamed. I’m not ashamed. I do believe in conscientious capitalism.”

DeSantis directed Florida to withdraw funds from BlackRock, which manages $8.6 trillion in assets, and to invest, instead, with companies focused on earning the highest financial return and not on wokeness.

DeSantis and fellow Trustees of the State Board of Administration (SBA) passed a resolution in August 2022 directing Florida's fund managers to invest state funds in a manner that “prioritizes the highest return on investment for Florida's taxpayers and retirees without considering the ideological agenda of the environmental, social, and corporate governance (ESG) movement.”

Some investment management insiders think that BlackRock may continue to back away from its ESG emphasis, perhaps even rebranding the same agendas under new jargon—especially as ESG has become such a politically fraught topic.

“We talk a lot about decarbonization,” Fink said Sunday. “We talk a lot about governance … or social issues, if that’s something we need to address.”

In point of fact, Fink’s latest annual letter to investors does not include the term ESG a single time.

Green energy concerns don’t come up until the 18th paragraph and the word “climate” isn’t first mentioned until the 8th page.

Could it be possible that even the world’s largest asset manager is realizing the downsides of, as BlackRock itself puts it, “weaponized” ESG?

Certainly, Fink’s letters are viewed as an important signal of financial firms’ policies, and how politicians and lawmakers should respond.

However, Fink told the Aspen Ideas Festival his annual letters to investors, including those discussing ESG issues, were never meant to be political statements.


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BlackRock CEO Larry Fink said he is no longer going to use the term ESG because it has become "weaponized."
blackrock, environmental social governance, esg, larry fink, ron desantis
Monday, 26 June 2023 10:29 AM
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