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BlackRock's Fink pushes back after firm criticized in Republican debate

FILE PHOTO: Larry Fink, Chairman and CEO of BlackRock, at the NYSE in New York

By David Randall

NEW YORK (Reuters) - BlackRock Chief Executive Larry Fink said on Thursday that the firm was unfairly targeted by candidates in the fourth Republican presidential debate, calling it a "sad commentary on the state of American politics."

BlackRock, the world's largest asset manager, has faced a backlash from state pension plans in Republican-led Florida, Louisiana and Missouri for the firm's ESG policies, which filter possible investments based on environmental, social, and governance screens. Overall, the firm lost about $4 billion in 2022 in assets under management as a result of its ESG stance while pulling in $230 billion in inflows.

Florida Governor Ron DeSantis criticized the firm in Wednesday's debate for using its "economic power" to instill a "left wing agenda."

"The only agenda we have is delivering for our clients," Fink wrote in a LinkedIn post. "One candidate last night claimed that BlackRock was somehow deterring American energy companies from drilling for oil. The reality: BlackRock clients have more than $170 billion invested in American energy companies and just last month, we announced a joint venture with one of America’s largest energy companies to help develop new technology."

Shares of BlackRock rose 0.5% in afternoon trading, slightly behind the 0.7% gain in the benchmark S&P 500.

(Reporting by David Randall; Editing by Daniel Wallis)

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