Florida’s treasury is divesting from real estate giant BlackRock, pulling approximately $2 billion worth of state securities, the state’s chief financial officer, Jimmy Patronis, announced in a scathing press release.
The predominant reasons given behind the move were BlackRock’s usage of the “Environmental, Social, and Governance standards,” also known as ESG scoring, which puts emphasis on social justice and other “woke” initiatives when deciding who has access to capital.
The state is immediately ordering Florida’s custody bank to freeze some securities managed by BlackRock and remove them as manager of others. $1.43 billion in long-term securities will be frozen, while another $600 million of short-term investments will no longer be managed by BlackRock. “By 2023, Florida will have completely severed any financial ties with Blackrock.“
“BlackRock CEO Larry Fink is on a campaign to change the world… To meet this end, the asset management company has leaned heavily into Environmental, Social, and Governance standards – known as ESG – to help police who should, and who should not gain access to capital,” the CFO explained.
The $1.43 billion managed by BlackRock consisted of investments relating to corporate obligations, asset-backed secruties, and municipal bonds. In terms of scale, the Florida Department of Financial Services manages approximately $60 billion in taxpayer money.
“Whether stakeholder capitalism, or ESG standards, are being pushed by BlackRock for ideological reasons, or to develop social credit ratings, the effect is to avoid dealing with the messiness of democracy. I think it’s undemocratic of major asset managers to use their power to influence societal outcomes,” Patronis continued.
The treasury also referred to BlackRock’s management as a “social-engineering project,” which its says “isn’t something Florida ever signed up for.”
Patronis singled out the BlackRock CEO Larry Fink by name multiple times when criticizing his viewpoint on monetary access, stating “[BlackRock leaders] have openly stated they’ve got other goals than producing returns. As Larry Fink stated to CEOs ‘[A]ccess to capital is not a right. It is a privilege.’ As Florida’s CFO I agree wholeheartedly, so we’ll be taking Larry up on his offer.”
The loss represents just a small fraction of BlackRock’s $8 trillion in assets, however the company still took the move seriously. According to Reuters, BlackRock believes “the action put politics over investors interests” with much backlash coming from Republican leaders who see ESG investing as a “woke agenda” in action.