Missouri has pulled $500m out of pension funds managed by BlackRock, state Treasurer Scott Fitzpatrick said on Tuesday, accusing the asset manager of “prioritizing” environmental, social and governance (ESG) over shareholder returns.

Several Republican-led states have sought to cut business ties with BlackRock over its ESG push, with Louisiana earlier this month saying it would pull $794 million out of the company’s funds.

While environmentalists have protested that the world’s largest asset manager does too little to press for change at fossil fuel portfolio companies, Republican politicians have accused it of boycotting energy stocks.

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Chief Executive Officer Larry Fink last week defended the company’s investments, saying “(I am) now being attacked equally by the left and the right so I’m doing something right”.

“While the actions of some elected officials have attracted media headlines, they do not reflect the totality of our clients’ investment decisions,” a BlackRock spokesperson said on Tuesday, adding that the company had attracted $248 billion in net new long-term assets from clients this year.

Missouri State Employees’ Retirement System had asked BlackRock to abstain from proxy voting at companies on its behalf, but the asset manager refused its demand, Fitzpatrick said. Proxy voting is done by asset management firms on behalf of shareholders.

Source: Reuters

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