July 24, 2023 [CNBC] – BlackRock said Monday that Amin Nasser, the CEO of Saudi Aramco, the world’s largest oil company, is joining the asset manager’s board of directors.
The world’s largest asset manager said the move reflects the firm’s emphasis on the Middle East as part of its long-term strategy. BlackRock had more than $8 trillion in client assets under management as of 2022.
“Amin’s distinguished career at Aramco, spanning more than four decades, gives him a unique perspective on many of the key issues facing our firm and our clients,” Larry Fink, chairman and CEO of BlackRock, said in a statement.
“His leadership experience, understanding of the global energy industry and the drivers of the shift towards a low carbon economy, as well as his knowledge of the Middle East region, will all contribute meaningfully to the BlackRock Board dialogue,” Fink added.
Nasser has held the top position at Aramco since 2015. He oversaw the public listing of the oil company in 2019. In 2021, Aramco announced its proposal to achieve net-zero gas emissions by 2050.
BlackRock has been at the forefront of the financial industry’s adoption of environmental, social and corporate governance guidelines and strategies. The firm, which sells a number of “sustainable” funds, has come under fire for its fossil fuel investments, becoming a political punching bag with both Democrats and Republicans criticizing its ESG policies.
In August 2022, Texas Comptroller Glenn Hegar targeted BlackRock, putting the asset manager on a list of financial companies that “boycott energy companies.”
In December, Florida’s chief financial officer Jimmy Patronis said the Sunshine State’s treasury would begin divesting $2 billion of assets managed by BlackRock. “Using our cash… to fund BlackRock’s social-engineering project isn’t something Florida ever signed up for,” he said in a statement at the time. “It’s got nothing to do with maximizing returns and is the opposite of what an asset manager is paid to do.”
Fink previously said that asset managers like BlackRock are not “the environmental police,” but it is the firm’s fiduciary duty to give investors access to the best and most complete information to make their financial investment decisions, and that includes climate data.
“As I have said consistently over many years now, it is for governments to make policy and enact legislation, and not for companies, including asset managers, to be the environmental police,” Fink wrote in his annual letter.
One of Blackrock’s popular ESG exchange-traded funds, iShares ESG Aware MSCI USA ETF, has nearly $15 billion in assets under management.
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