Dec 1 (Reuters) – Florida’s chief monetary officer stated on Thursday his division would withdraw $2 billion from its belongings managed by BlackRock Inc (BLK.N), the biggest such divestment by a state against the insurance policies environmental, social and company elements of the asset supervisor. governance insurance policies (ESG).

The transfer will hardly have an effect on BlackRock’s $8 trillion in belongings and drew a powerful response from the corporate, which stated the motion put politics forward of investor pursuits. Nonetheless, it underscores how the backlash of many Republican leaders, like these in Florida, in opposition to ESG investing, which they see as selling a “woke agenda,” is rising.

Republicans are anticipated to take management of the US Home of Representatives in January. It will enable them to carry ESG hearings and grill the CEOs of BlackRock and different main asset managers on their ESG insurance policies, and likewise stress regulators to evaluation them.

In an announcement, Florida Chief Monetary Officer Jimmy Patronis stated the state Treasury, which he oversees, would take away BlackRock as supervisor of roughly $600 million in short-term investments and request its custodian to freeze $1.43 billion in long-dated securities now with BlackRock, with an eye fixed to reallocating the cash to different fund managers by early 2023.

Patronis accused BlackRock of specializing in ESG reasonably than larger returns for buyers.

“Florida’s Treasury Division is divesting from BlackRock as a result of it has overtly said that it has different objectives than producing returns,” Patronis stated within the assertion supplied by its workplace.

Requested in regards to the transfer, BlackRock stated in an announcement that “we’re troubled by the rising pattern of coverage initiatives like this that sacrifice entry to high-quality investments and thereby undermine returns, which can finally harm to the residents of Florida. Trustees ought to all the time worth efficiency over politics.”

Neither Patronis nor his workplace raised efficiency issues, BlackRock stated, including that it had invested greater than $65 billion in Florida-based corporations, municipal bonds and different securities.

Whereas BlackRock has inspired portfolio corporations to take steps akin to disclosing extra information on their carbon emissions or including extra numerous members to the board, it stated its efforts are aimed toward bettering firm efficiency and resisted requires measures akin to divestment from oil corporations. US Democratic officers have argued that BlackRock will not be emphasizing ESG issues sufficient. Learn extra

To this point, solely Republican-controlled states have made main reallocations away from BlackRock, together with $794 million withdrawn by Louisiana’s treasurer and $500 million by Missouri’s treasurer, each in October.

Different corporations additionally face Republican scrutiny. Earlier this week, Republican attorneys basic in varied states requested a federal regulator to restrict Vanguard Group Inc’s actions relating to ESG issues, and requested United Parcel Service Inc (UPS.N) and FedEx Corp (FDX. N) make clear their insurance policies on gun monitoring. shipments.

Reporting by Ross Kerber; Modifying by Chizu Nomiyama

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