BlackRock Chief Executive Larry Fink has accused Republican presidential candidates of spreading “misinformation” about the trillion-dollar asset manager during the fourth Republican presidential debate in Tuscaloosa, Alabama, on Dec. 6.
The BlackRock CEO denied multiple claims made by the GOP presidential candidates and branded their focus on the firm a “sad commentary on the state of American politics.”
Some of the candidates who appeared on stage during the debate mentioned BlackRock more times than they did inflation or the national debt, Mr. Fink claimed.
“Now I know why they call this the political silly season,” Mr. Fink began the post.
“One candidate last night claimed that BlackRock was somehow deterring American energy companies from drilling for oil. The reality: BlackRock clients have more than $170 billion invested in American energy companies and just last month, we announced a joint venture with one of America’s largest energy companies to help develop new technology,” he continued.
‘Left-wing Agenda’Mr. DeSantis and Mr. Ramaswamy did not hold back during Wednesday’s debate, calling out BlackRock—the world’s largest asset manager which owns large stakes in firms such as Amazon, Apple, ExxonMobil, Microsoft, and Pepsi—for what they said was its “left-wing agenda.”
“They want to use economic power to impose a left-wing agenda on this country,” the governor said. “They want basically to change society without having to go through the constitutional process.”
Later Mr. DeSantis credited himself with taking “$2 billion away from BlackRock,” referring to Florida pulling investments from BlackRock that it previously managed in the wake of its adoption of ESG policies.
Mr. Ramaswamy, meanwhile, referred to Mr. Fink as “king of the woke industrial complex, the ESG movement, the CEO of BlackRock, the most powerful company in the world,” and claimed he is “now supporting Nikki Haley.”
Their comments come as BlackRock has faced growing backlash from Republican-led states and investors over policies many believe prioritize a more liberal agenda and risk drastic implications on wider economic growth.
‘Sad Commentary on the State of American Politics’Overall, the firm lost roughly $4 billion in 2022 in assets under management as a result of its support of ESG policies but pulled in $230 billion in inflows.
Responding to Wednesday’s comments by Mr. DeSantis and Mr. Ramaswamy, billionaire Fink insisted he is yet to endorse any candidate in the 2024 presidential race.
“Despite multiple claims in the debate to the contrary, I haven’t endorsed any candidate for president this year,” Mr. Fink wrote in the post on LinkedIn, adding that meeting with policymakers and election candidates “to understand the implications for our clients” is simply part of his job.
“BlackRock was mentioned by some candidates in last night’s debate more than inflation or the national debt. That’s a sad commentary on the state of American politics,” he wrote.
“But I remain an optimist that our political process will ultimately tackle some of the real issues facing the country like: how can we drive the sustained economic growth we need to deal with our ballooning national debt. Now more than ever, America needs fewer Pinocchios and more Honest Abes,” Mr. Fink concluded.
In a separate post on X, formerly known as Twitter, on Wednesday, BlackRock said the company focuses on “helping millions of Americans retire securely.”
BlackRock ‘Forcing Behaviors’“We make decisions based on our client’s best interests, not political or ideological agendas. Demonizing law-abiding American companies undermines confidence in U.S. markets and leadership,” the firm said.
During the interview, the BlackRock CEO acknowledged his company is “forcing behaviors” to meet workforce diversity quotas.
“You have to force behaviors. If you don’t force behaviors, whether it’s gender or race or just anyway you want to say the composition of your team, you’re going to be impacted. That not just recruiting, it’s development,” Mr. Fink said. “We’re gonna [sic] have to force change.”
At the time, BlackRock insisted the interview was taken out of context and misconstrued Mr. Fink’s words about BlackRock’s own approach to its employees.
“As a fiduciary, our actions serve one purpose: maximizing long-term financial value for our clients. As an employer, we seek to hire employees from a wide range of backgrounds and perspectives because we believe this diversity is critical to delivering for our clients,” the company said in a statement.
BlackRock’s actions violated the Investment Advisers Act of 1940 and the Investment Company Act of 1940, the SEC found. While the asset manager agreed to pay the penalty, it did not admit or deny the SEC’s findings.