- When BlackRock, the world’s largest asset manager, says it will “punish” companies for their “climate inaction,” what does it mean? Maybe the other 244 companies on its “watch” list will react differently when they find out.
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“Punishment” is a relative term; a $1 million dollar penalty is no big deal for a billionaire while a $100 fine may pinch someone who is destitute. So when BlackRock announced it would “punish” 53 companies in its portfolio for “climate inaction,” did they mean a forgettable fine, a stern talking-to, or the finance equivalent of being grounded?
As the world’s largest asset manager, BlackRock wields power at its portfolio companies’ annual shareholder meetings. CEO Larry Fink’s letter in January announced that the firm would use it against companies dragging their feet. That, so far, is what “punishment” has looked like: votes against incumbent directors. Though a step in the right direction, what climate activists really want is BlackRock’s support for climate change proposals. There’s still time: 244 BlackRock portfolio companies are still “on watch.”
In Other News: Boohoo, Bridgewater, Oatly & Oprah
Investors in Swedish oat milk giant Oatly — valued at $2 billion — now include Oprah Winfrey, Natalie Portman, and Howard Schultz. Meanwhile, British fast-fashion retailer Boohoo lost a major investor over the brand’s “inadequate” response to worker abuse allegations. Bridgewater, the world’s largest hedge fund and known for proactive diversity practices, is fighting with its former CEO because her severance package is less than male severances. A Danish VC firm closed a €76 million ($86.7 million) fund to invest in Europe’s health care innovation. The Trump Administration will no longer deport international students for taking an online-only course load this fall. I guess robot masks were bound to happen sometime…