Seattle City Employees' Retirement System removed BlackRock from its watchlist after the money manager addressed concerns regarding its environmental, social and governance policies, said Jason Malinowski, chief investment officer, in an email.
The $2.9 billion pension fund originally placed BlackRock, which runs a $356 million passive international equity portfolio for the pension fund, on watch in December 2016. Pension fund staff cited in that month's meeting minutes BlackRock's "reticence to oppose management, limited focus on environmental and social issues, inconsistency between their proxy voting record with their policies and public pronouncements, and limited transparency on investment stewardship activities."
The pension fund's board removed BlackRock from the watchlist at its Dec. 13 meeting. Mr. Malinowski said: "We found that BlackRock had made acceptable changes to address the ESG concerns that we had identified when placing them on watch in 2016. We further note that ESG is a continuously evolving area that will require our ongoing evaluation and engagement with BlackRock."
Investment consultant NEPC assisted.