North Carolina State Treasurer Dale Folwell is calling for BlackRock CEO Larry Fink to resign or be removed because of the executive’s focus on ESG, including participation in investor groups like Glasgow Financial Alliance for Net Zero.
In an interview Friday, Mr. Folwell, a Republican, said the call for Mr. Fink’s removal “is not personal, it’s mathematical.”
Mr. Folwell cited his fiduciary duties as sole trustee of the $111.4 billion North Carolina Retirement Systems, Raleigh, and chairman of a state banking commission and local government body that issues debt for his criticism of the “chaos, fussiness, wacktivism” promoted by Mr. Fink and others.
“All the energy that’s been spent these last months and years have put us in conflict. Today I feel very liberated that I have fulfilled my fiduciary duty to our members,” Mr. Folwell said.
Mr. Folwell recently signed an agreement allowing the pension system to vote shares managed by BlackRock instead of the asset manager. “We are going to do that anywhere we see” similar activism by asset managers, he said.
“I hope BlackRock itself gets liberated from Mr. Fink,” the treasurer said.
NCRS has $14 billion invested through BlackRock in mostly passive funds, plus $55 million passively invested in BlackRock stocks or bonds.
In a statement provided by a spokesman, BlackRock said that is “has consistently delivered for our clients and shareholders, including the citizens of North Carolina. We value our relationship with the North Carolina Retirement Systems and are proud of the strong returns and significant value we deliver.”
The asset manager said that it will not let recent campaigns change things. “Over the past year, BlackRock has been subject to campaigns suggesting we are either ‘too progressive’ or ‘too conservative’ in how we manage our clients’ money. We are neither. We are a fiduciary. We put our clients’ interests first and deliver the investment choices and performance they need,” the statement said.
U.S. clients awarded BlackRock $84 billion of long-term net inflows in the third quarter and $275 billion over the last twelve months, it said.
On Thursday, Arizona Treasurer Kimberly Yee said in a separate statement that the state has cut most ties with BlackRock, reducing direct exposure by 97% this year, when she also began leading a national divestment effort against the asset manager.
Her office divested more than $543 million from BlackRock money market funds following an internal risk committee review of Mr. Fink’s annual letters, “which in recent years, began dictating to businesses in the United States to follow his personal political beliefs. In short, BlackRock moved from a traditional asset manager to a political action committee,” Ms. Yee, a Republican, said in the statement.