Notable business headlines include activist investor group BlueBell calling for BlackRock CEO Larry Fink to step down from the company after failing to move investments beyond fossil fuels, Juul Labs reaching a settlement covering over 5,000 lawsuits, and TikTok's growing security concerns.
- Let's get down to business now with some other headlines that we are watching. Activist investor group BlueBell Capital is calling for BlackRock CEO Larry Fink to step down over the company's alleged hypocrisy around its environmental, social, and governance, or ESG messaging. The fund says BlackRock endorses a number of bad practices and has failed on its 2020 promise to move investments beyond fossil fuels, noting that it is still a majority shareholder in Glencore and coal-intensive miners Exxaro, Peabody, and Whitehaven.
In a statement, BlackRock said "BlueBell has waged a number of campaigns to promote its climate and governance agenda, but its investment stewardship did not support its campaigns and does not consider them to be in the best economic interest of its clients." BlueBell, by the way, holds a 1% stake in BlackRock. And remember, BlackRock is also getting it from the other side as well, Florida pledging to pull some of its funds from the company for very different reasons.
Meantime, Juul Labs reached a sweeping settlement yesterday covering over 5,000 lawsuits representing about 10,000 individual plaintiffs. That wraps up most of the legal uncertainty over the sale and marketing of e-cigarettes blamed for the teenage vaping crisis. The terms of the deals were not disclosed. Juul did say it secured an equity investment to cover the cost of the settlement and had previously been in talks with early investors to fund a bailout that would cover legal liabilities. Juul's CEO said the settlements represent another significant step to secure its path forward.
And the United States is now falling behind on its plan to reach a deal with TikTok due to growing worries over national security concerns. That's according to a report from "The Wall Street Journal." Those concerns include how TikTok might share information related to its algorithm that it uses to determine what videos it shows to users, as well as the level of trust that Washington needs to give the company. TikTok says it's looking for a timely conclusion to its deal with the US so it can put those security concerns to rest.