BlackRock (BLK.N) plans no major changes to the way it engages with companies and votes on environmental and social issues in the year ahead, despite a backlash against its stance on climate change from some US Republican politicians.
The world’s biggest asset manager, with oversees around $8 trillion for investors, has been challenged by some Republican lawmakers as it pushes companies to make changes as part of a global transition to a low-carbon economy.
Among its most vocal critics has been oil-rich Texas, where officials last week confronted BlackRock executive Dalia Blass over the issue, including challenging its membership of a global group of money managers looking to cut portfolio emissions.
Elsewhere, Florida said it plans to pull $2 billion in investments from BlackRock, which said the action put politics above investor interest.
BlackRock, meanwhile, also faces pressure from campaigners and others to drive quicker change by using its voting power to force boards to act to reduce carbon emissions.
The fund giant is also facing a campaign by activist investor Bluebell Capital Partners to oust Chief Executive Larry Fink, in part because of its ESG efforts.
Against that backdrop, BlackRock said in an annual update on its stewardship policies, which guide talks with boards ahead of shareholder meetings, that it had only made a “few changes”.
One was to mention in the policy for the first time its support for enhanced disclosures from companies exposed to risks and opportunities relating to nature.
The other was to encourage companies to release reports on their sustainability performance far enough in advance of their annual meeting so that investors could properly assess the data.
“As a result, we do not anticipate material changes in our voting, and much of our engagement with companies will be continuing the dialogue on material risks and opportunities that we had in 2022,” it said.