BlackRock’s Shifts in Governance Leave ESG Foes Hungry for More

July 21, 2023 – Media Mention
Bloomberg Law

Partner and chair of Herrick's Corporate Department, Morris DeFeo, was quoted in Bloomberg Law about asset manager BlackRock's recent move to put a top Saudi oil executive on its board, its plans to give U.S. investors more voting power and the ongoing discussion about the company's investment decisions tied to ESG policies. 

The article discusses ESG critics who have blasted the asset manager based on its ESG policies. "Conservative politicians don’t appear likely to back down against companies that have prominently backed ESG as the clash over climate policies and more continues to balloon. 'I don’t see that trend changing,'" noted Morris.

“They’ll become less of a target when the most vocal advocates find a better target, it's human nature,” Morris said. “There’s always an effort to find that poster child.”

In discussing the appointment of a top Saudi oil executive to its board, the article further emphasizes that "while BlackRock has embraced sustainable energy options, it has told investors that the oil industry remains important in the mix." 

Because the global economy is still heavily reliant on fossil fuels, the asset manager is right not to ignore the issue, Morris explained.

“So much of the world still is based in traditional energy sources and we’re still unfortunately living in a carbon-emitting world where a lot of economies and people depend on fossil fuels,” Morris continued. “I’m not here to say that it’s good, but it’s realistic.”

The article also noted that "BlackRock has also announced plans to give US investors more voting power at shareholder meetings—a move that followed criticism from both sides of the aisle concerning the firm’s input on ESG policies."

Read the full article in Bloomberg Law here. Access may require a subscription.