BlackRock’s Fink defends energy investments amid criticism from ‘left and right’

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NEW YORK, Oct 12 (Reuters) – Larry Fink, chief executive of the world’s largest asset manager, BlackRock Inc (BLK.N), defended his company’s energy investments on Wednesday after facing a backlash from from lawmakers critical of its stance on environmental, social and governance (ESG) issues.

“Facts don’t matter with certain subgroups in this country,” Fink told attendees at the Institute of International Finance conference in Washington, citing the company’s $181 billion investment in U.S. energy companies .

“I’m now being attacked equally from the left and the right, so I’m doing something right, I hope. I don’t know. It’s painful, but you know what? We’re moving on.”

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BlackRock is ready to fund U.S. energy pipelines as soon as the projects receive government approval, he said.

The company is one of the largest pipeline financiers in the world, investing in pipelines in Texas, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates. Energy security is front and center following OPEC+’s latest decision to cut its oil production target despite US objections.

BlackRock has faced criticism from many quarters in the low-carbon fuels debate, with environmentalists protesting it is doing too little to push for change at fossil fuel portfolio companies, and politicians American Republicans accusing him of boycotting energy stocks.

States like Texas, Arkansas and West Virginia have targeted the company for its ESG investing strategies. Louisiana announced this month that it would withdraw $794 million from BlackRock funds.

Fink was speaking ahead of BlackRock’s third-quarter earnings release on Oct. 13, when it is expected to post a drop in quarterly revenue.

Financial markets have been hit hard this year as global central banks have raised interest rates to combat stubbornly high inflation. Fink, however, said falling stock and bond valuations presented opportunities for investors, and his company was showing strong interest in bonds.

Citing factors such as the acceleration of the construction of new supply chains, which have been hit hard by the COVID-19 pandemic, Fink said that measures to fight inflation could, in the long term, weigh on price pressures.

Separately, Fink was asked if he was concerned about Britain, where the economy and financial markets have been in turmoil in recent weeks.

The nation “is experiencing high inflation due to the short-term impact of Brexit, when millions are leaving the country and now have huge labor shortages, rising wages”, Fink said.

“And so in my private conversations with the government today, I asked them that, because they have shortages in a lot of different places and they said we’re really going to create a much more expedited managed immigration process. .”

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Reporting by Davide Barbuscia and Lananh Nguyen; Editing by David Gregorio, Lincoln Feast and Richard Pullin

Our standards: The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

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