The world’s largest asset manager was the sole US-based firm included on a list of 10 companies this week that allegedly shun oil and gas, a designation that could wind up costing BlackRock deals within the Lone Star State. BlackRock quickly disputed the declaration, and in an interview Thursday, the head of its US business said the review was faulty and “bad for the business climate.”
“What they’ve done by taking this very arbitrary decision is to effectively say to every company out there, not just financial services companies out there, that this may be you at some point in time,” the executive, Mark McCombe, said by phone. “If we don’t need facts to actually arrive at a list, then you know what’s the basis upon which I want to do business in Texas?”
The decision was the latest step by Republican lawmakers across the US to fight back against companies they view as hostile to fossil fuels. BlackRock tried repeatedly during Texas’s review to persuade officials that the firm is among the world’s biggest investors in the industry, with more than $100 billion in Texas energy companies. BlackRock is also the second-largest shareholder in Texas-based Exxon Mobil Corp., with a more-than 6% stake.
“One of the most important things you can do is instill confidence that the business environment is going to be pro-free market and pro-capital,” McCombe said. “This decision, which is not fact-based, does not instill confidence.”
McCombe said BlackRock remains committed to serving clients in the state and is “very proud” of its work in there. He said the move politicizes the process of pension fund investing and said BlackRock’s inclusion as the only US company on the list isn’t based in fact.
“This may look like a localized issue down in Texas, but if you play it out, it’s a little bit of a worrying sign,” McCombe said. “We think that it’s time to a little bit say, ‘No.’ From our perspective as the world’s biggest investor, this is not good for the investment climate.”