Dec 8, 2023 - Energy & Environment

Between the lines of BlackRock's debate rebuttal

Animated illustration of Earth in the shape of a speech bubble with an ellipsis in the center to indicate typing

Illustration: Annelise Capossela/Axios

BlackRock boss Larry Fink's response to Republican criticism about his support for environmental social governance says a lot about the politics of ESG and the 2024 presidential race.

Driving the news: His Linkedin post responded to attacks on BlackRock in Wednesday's Republican presidential debate, rebutting assertions made about the investment giant's posture on oil and more.

  • "The reality: BlackRock clients have more than $170 billion invested in American energy companies," he wrote.
  • Fink also said that "another candidate accused BlackRock of pursuing an ideological agenda. The only agenda we have is delivering for our clients."

Quick take: Fink sees anti-ESG policies from the political right — which target his firm and others — gaining enough traction that he felt compelled to respond.

Catch up fast: GOP contender Vivek Ramaswamy claimed Fink — who he called the "king of the woke industrial complex, the ESG movement" — is backing ex-South Carolina governor Nikki Haley. Fink wrote that he hasn't endorsed anyone.

  • Ramaswamy also, per the FT, accused Fink of "telling Exxon and Chevron they can't drill here."
  • Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis boasted of steering state funds away from BlackRock.
  • CNBC has more on how BlackRock surfaced and Fink's wider response.

The bottom line: Fink wrote that "I know why they call this the political silly season," but he appears to be taking attacks seriously.

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