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Capital Calls: BlackRock tests Exxon and self too

2 minute read

Laurence D. Fink, chairman and CEO of BlackRock, attends the World Economic Forum annual meeting in Davos, January 25, 2018. REUTERS/Denis Balibouse

NEW YORK, May 25 (Reuters Breakingviews) - Concise insights on global finance.

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INVESTOR NO. 1. BlackRock (BLK.N) will back three of a rebellious shareholder’s director nominees at $250 billion Exxon Mobil’s (XOM.N) annual meeting on Wednesday, according to Reuters read more . The move by the world’s biggest asset manager could swing other votes. That’s a test for Exxon boss Darren Woods. In a sense, though, BlackRock Chief Executive Larry Fink is also on trial.

Investment firm Engine No. 1 and others want a reluctant Exxon to pay more heed to its future, or lack thereof, as a purveyor of fossil fuels. If successful, the effort to replace directors might precipitate both the boardroom shock and the new ideas required.

BlackRock, meanwhile, has ramped up its voting against companies’ recommendations, notably when they show insufficient attention to climate change. The $9 trillion asset manager voted against two Exxon directors and in favor of an independent chair last year, according to its disclosures. All of this bolsters BlackRock’s credentials when it comes to promoting responsible corporate ownership. That’s no bad thing since Fink is facing his own shareholders on Wednesday, too. (By Richard Beales)

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