Nonetheless, Bluebell is bullish asan investor and believes changes are needed at the world's largest asset manager with nearly $8 trillion in AUM as of Sept 30.
"As a shareholder in BlackRock, 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; and the backlash caused by BlackRock's ESG strategy which has alienated clients and attracted an undesired level of negative publicity," Bluebell wrote in a Nov. 10 letter addressed to Mr. Fink and reviewed by Pensions & Investments.
Giuseppe Bivona, a partner and chief investment officer at Bluebell, likes BlackRock. It is the "undisputed leader in its sector" and has opportunites for growth in private markets and across geographies, Mr. Bivona told Pensions & Investments in an interview.
But "the franchise damage, if you ask us, has been done," he added.
Even if Mr. Fink became less outspoken about ESG, Mr. Bivona said Mr. Fink should still should be replaced.
The activist investor also highlighted that BlackRock has a succession problem.
"I think there's a lot of internal talent. I'd like to see a woman be the head of BlackRock," Mr. Bivona said. "You cannot get there if you don't make the case that we've been advocating for."
Mr. Fink has said he hopes the criticism he and BlackRock have drawn -- from both sides for and against ESG -- is a sign he's making the right choice.
In its letter, Bluebell called that "amateurish" and claims that approach alienates important clients and attracts negative publicity.