The World’s Biggest Woke Investor Just Took Millions In Saudi Oil Money

(Photo credit should read JACQUELYN MARTIN/AFP via Getty Images)

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BlackRock, the world’s biggest asset manager and a proponent of the so-called Environmental, Social, and Governance (ESG) investment strategy, was the target of a $451.72 million investment by the Saudi Arabian government as part of a move to invest record oil profits, according to Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) filings.

The Saudi Arabian Public Investment Fund’s (PIF) investment represents an approximately 0.5% stake in the company, according to SEC filings congregated by financial research firm Fintel, and comes as the firm’s investments have been buoyed by the Saudi’s success in oil, The Wall Street Journal reported. BlackRock’s stance on ESG integration “encompasses items relating to corporate governance and behaviour,” according to a company statement with the company remaining committed to promoting “policy and philanthropic initiatives that promote [Diversity Equity & Inclusion],” as well as net zero investment funds.

The Saudi Arabian government is responsible for a variety of human rights violations, including the silencing of critics, political assassinations and sex-based discrimination. The regime employs a variety of cruel punishments, such as forced amputations, notably sentencing blogger Raid Badawi to 1,000 lashes with a whip and ten years in jail, as well as assassinating journalist Jamal Khashoggi, according to Amnesty International.

The Saudi state-owned oil company Aramco set a record this year with $48.4 billion in profits in the second quarter, representing a 90% year-on-year boost in profits off the back of extraordinarily high oil and gas prices, the BBC reported Sunday. The PIF, a 4% shareholder in Aramco, has been using the windfall to invest in a variety of companies across the world, the WSJ reported.

However, BlackRock is a strong advocate for “sustainable” investing and often invests in renewable energy technologies.

“Capital markets have allowed companies and countries to flourish. But access to capital is not a right. It is a privilege,” said BlackRock Chief Executive Officer Larry Fink in a Jan. 18 letter to CEOs, “And the duty to attract that capital in a responsible and sustainable way lies with you.”

A perspective piece released in Feb. 2020 described BlackRock’s view on sustainability as distilled into two primary motivations: first the avoiding of particular investments that might violate the values of a client, and secondly advancing strategies that “align capital with certain behaviors or target specific [environmental] or [social] outcomes.”

BlackRock has recently come under fire from 19 Republican State Attorneys General, for allegedly failing to fulfill its obligations to pursue the best investments on behalf of state pension-holders due to its commitment to ESG investments, according to an Aug. 4 letter released by the Offices of the State Attorneys General of Arizona and Nebraska.

The Saudi Arabian government’s investments in 17 new American companies in the second quarter ranged in value from $357 million to $507 million, according to Fintel. The government-run Public Investment Firm’s investments in American companies now totals $40.7 billion dollars, with the latest round of investments representing about 18.5% of the fund’s total investment in the U.S., according to the same data.

This is down $3 billion overall from last quarter, due to the poor performance of other stocks in the fund, according to the WSJ.

Neither BlackRock nor the PIF immediately responded to a Daily Caller News Foundation request for comment.

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