BlackRock, Inc., the world’s biggest asset manager, named Saudi Aramco Chairman and CEO Amin Nasser, as an independent director to its board. The move raised several eyebrows across corporate and social media circles.
What Happened: Conservative news outlet ZeroHedge criticized BlackRock CEO Larry Fink, claiming that his environmental, social, and corporate governance (ESG) approach is losing credibility.
“Larry Fink’s Fake ESG Facade Crumbles,” ZeroHedge tweeted
Saudi Aramco, a prominent Saudi Arabian petroleum and natural gas company, is the world’s second-most valuable company.
Commenting on Nasser’s appointment, Fink said, “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.”
ZeroHedge raised concerns about Saudi Aramco’s significant role as the world’s largest oil producer, stating that it negatively impacts the company’s environmental ranking. The outlet also referenced the alleged involvement of Saudi Arabia’s crown prince, Mohammad bin Salman, in the assassination of journalist Jamal Khashoggi in 2018.
Tesla CEO Elon Musk expressed surprise at Nasser’s appointment, as did Ross Gerber, the president and CEO of Gerber Kawasaki Wealth and Investment Management.
“Really Blackrock? Can the Saudis buy their way into everything… Like you need another reason to divest from Blackrock Funds,” Gerber tweeted.
Why It Matters: In his annual letter to corporate executives last year, released under the title “The Power of Capitalism,” Fink insisted the pursuit of ESG standards was not antithetical to the pursuit of profits.
Nasser’s induction into the board coincides with the upcoming retirement of Bader Alsaad, Director General and Chairman of the Board of the Arab Fund for Economic & Social Development, in 2024. BlackRock emphasized that Nasser’s appointment ensures the continuation of regional expertise on the board and underscores the Middle East’s importance to the firm’s long-term strategy.
BlackRock defended its board composition approach, aiming to “strike a balance between institutional and industry knowledge and fresh perspectives on areas of future growth.”
Price Action: On Monday, BlackRock’s stock closed at $727.87, experiencing a marginal decline of 0.02%.
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