By Jessica Toonkel
NEW YORK (Reuters) – BlackRock Inc, the world’s largest asset manager, has no intention of buying a retail brokerage firm, Larry Fink, the chief executive officer, told shareholders Thursday morning.
When asked by an investor at BlackRock’s annual shareholder meeting if it would ever consider buying a retail brokerage given the profitability of the business, Fink said “No, that’s not part of our business model.”
Similarly, Fink quickly dismissed a shareholder question about whether he would serve on a board of another company anytime in the next two to three years, answering with a quick “no.” He does not serve on any other company boards.
The shareholder meeting, which lasted around 45 minutes, took place Thursday morning at the Palace Hotel in New York.
While shareholders overwhelmingly approved the company’s proposals, including employee and executive compensation plans, they voted down the two shareholder proposals.
One proposal, introduced by the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees Pension Plan and The Missionary Oblates of Mary Immaculate, requested that BlackRock publish an annual report disclosing its lobbying procedures, payments to lobbyists and trade associations. It received only 17 percent shareholder support.
Another proposal, introduced by Investors against Genocide, requested that BlackRock implement an investment policy prohibiting investment in companies that engage in genocide.
Specifically, the proposal, which only received three percent of the shareholder vote, noted that BlackRock is one of the largest holders of PetroChina and Sinopec, which are both large oil producers in Syria and Sudan. As such, the group claims they help fund government-sponsored genocide in both countries.
BlackRock, with $4.8 trillion in assets under management, largely invests in the companies through its index funds, and is limited in what it can do, Fink told shareholders. However, BlackRock is willing to accommodate clients who want to invest in the index without those two companies, as well as work with the index providers to address the issue, Fink said.
“We have had some engagement about excluding those two companies,” he said.
(Editing by Jeffrey Benkoe)