BlackRock prevails over shareholder activists at annual meeting

People are seen in front of a showroom that hosts BlackRock in Davos

By Ross Kerber

(Reuters) -Top fund manager BlackRock Inc won support from investors at its annual meeting on Wednesday as it seeks a middle ground in debates over its environmental, social and governance (ESG) policies.

BlackRock said each of its director nominees received “well over a majority” of votes cast at the meeting, held online, and that 92% supported the pay of Chief Executive Larry Fink and other leaders.

In addition New York-based BlackRock said two shareholder resolutions raising climate concerns won less than 10% support, while a third resolution from a conservative group that targeted BlackRock’s diversity policies won less than 1% support.

One of the climate resolutions asked BlackRock to report on how it could improve pension fund client returns by focusing its stewardship efforts and proxy voting to “engineer decarbonization in the real economy.”

Fink said that is not BlackRock’s role. “We have clients who wish for that, but we also have clients who are not interested in that, and our job is to be working with our clients,” he said during the meeting.

With some $9.1 trillion under management, BlackRock has become a top investor at most large U.S. corporations and faces growing criticism both from both liberal and conservative-leaning investor activists and politicians.

Late last year an activist firm as well as North Carolina’s state treasurer had separately called for Fink’s departure, but he received backing as a director from top proxy adviser Institutional Shareholder Services.

(Reporting by Ross Kerber; Editing by Toby Chopra and Chizu Nomiyama)