BlackRock’s Fink wants more sustainability data from private cos

(Reuters) – BlackRock Inc Chief Executive Larry Fink on Wednesday called for more disclosure requirements for private companies as governments create new accounting standards for sustainable business areas like climate change.

In a letter to shareholders of the world’s largest asset manager, provided by a spokesman, Fink wrote that government “must play the leadership role” in cutting emissions. He called for mandatory disclosures for public and private companies worldwide, coupled with legal protections for companies making their best efforts at describing risks.

“If large private companies are not held to the same level of scrutiny as public companies, we will create an unintended incentive to shift carbon-intensive assets to markets with less transparency and, often, less regulation,” Fink wrote.

Fink’s language was more specific than in a January memo in which he said climate disclosures “should be embraced” by large private companies.

The new wording comes as European Union and U.S. regulators hash out how much sustainability data companies should provide on area like greenhouse gas emissions or workforce demographics.

New York-based BlackRock, with some $8.7 trillion under management, had previously backed mandatory climate reporting. Last month it joined other asset managers pledging to push companies in their portfolios to net zero carbon emissions by 2050 or sooner.

But many of the largest companies, including in fossil fuel industries, are not publicly listed, either because they are in private hands or are state-owned enterprises.

BlackRock closes Shanghai unit: Focus on mutual fund business

SHANGHAI (Reuters) – Global asset manager BlackRock has folded a private fund unit in Shanghai as it focuses on launching its mutual fund business in the world’s second-biggest economy.

BlackRock last week voluntarily cancelled the business registration of its wholly foreign-owned enterprise (WFOE) unit in Shanghai, according to the website of the Asset Management Association of China (AMAC).

Last August, BlackRock became the first global asset manager to win Chinese regulatory approval to set up a mutual fund unit in the country, and was given six months to establish the business.

BlackRock said it is still preparing the launch of the mutual fund business.

China fully opened its $3.3 trillion mutual fund industry to foreign managers last April. Global players including BlackRock, Fidelity International, Neuberger Berman and Schroders have applied to set up mutual fund units in China.

But not all are confident of succeeding in a market crowded with 147 players and 8,202 mutual fund products.

Earlier this month, Vanguard Group dropped a plan to obtain a mutual funds licence in China, citing a “crowded” market.

($1 = 6.5577 Chinese yuan renminbi)

BlackRock hires law firm for internal review after executive conduct complaints

BOSTON (Reuters) – BlackRock Inc said on Monday it is hiring a prominent law firm to conduct an internal review after a report in a trade publication detailed new employee complaints about the conduct of executives, including senior leader Mark Wiedman.

BlackRock CEO Larry Fink said in a staffwide memo on Monday that the company is retaining the law firm Paul, Weiss to conduct a review, following the complaints and other incidents that have come to light in recent weeks.

A copy of the memo was provided to Reuters by a company spokesman and is the latest in a series of penitent statements by the world’s largest asset manager.

This time, Fink was responding to an article published by Institutional Investor that described a “bro culture” within BlackRock and detailed inappropriate remarks made by Wiedman, for which he apologized.

Such incidents “should not happen at BlackRock,” Fink wrote. A Paul, Weiss spokesperson did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

With some $8.7 trillion under management, BlackRock has become one of the most influential voices pushing for more boardroom diversity and minority representation at other companies whose shares it owns.

Yet BlackRock itself has faced a rising number of complaints from women and minority employees about their treatment.

Last month, BlackRock described plans to beef up its process to investigate workers’ concerns and expand training after former employees shared accounts on social media of racial and sexual harassment.

On Monday, the trade publication Institutional Investor said it had spoken with a number of current and former BlackRock employees who described how their experiences clashed with BlackRock’s rhetoric. The report described how Wiedman, the company’s head of international and of corporate strategy, made inappropriate remarks like publicly asking a woman about a choice of underwear at an employee dinner, held about a decade ago.

In a statement sent by the spokesman to Reuters and to Institutional Investor, Wiedman said that “Those comments were a clumsy and misguided attempt at building camaraderie that failed terribly, and I am sorry.”

In response to the Institutional Investor article, a company spokesman said: “BlackRock is committed to building a diverse firm and an inclusive culture. There are episodes recounted in this story that are appalling and behavior of that kind should never take place at BlackRock.”