- BlackRock chief executive officer Larry Fink’s annual letter to CEOs is a widely-read note on Wall Street. This year, an unknown group released a fake version, complete with a partial copy of BlackRock’s website.
- The bogus letter purported to take a stronger stance on climate change. Media including the Financial Times picked up the letter before deleting posts.
- Other activists and investors have recently urged BlackRock to take a stronger stance on climate change.
Larry Fink’s annual letter to chief executive officers is widely read on Wall Street and beyond, signalling priorities for the world’s largest asset manager and how its smaller peers may follow.
On Wednesday, Fink seemed to take a stronger stance on climate change than ever before, calling for direct action from BlackRock and the companies in which it invests. BlackRock would divest from coal companies in its actively-managed funds and change its voting patterns, among other shifts. The letter sits on what looks like a copy of BlackRock’s website, complete with an announcement about Wednesday’s earnings.
Business media outlets, including the Financial Times, ran stories early on Wednesday with the big news.
The letter, however, was fake.
A BlackRock spokesman pointed to the company’s official Twitter account: “Don’t be fooled by imitations…Larry’s real CEO letter coming soon,” the firm tweeted on Wednesday.
Hours after running the original story – which was deleted – the Financial Times published a piece about the fake letter. An Financial Times spokeswoman declined further comment.
It was unclear who sent the letter. BlackRock has been targeted by several activists and other investors urging stronger action on climate change. Earlier this week, a group including two US asset managers, Swiss institutional investor consortium Ethos Fund and nine non-governmental organisations wrote to Fink, asking the manager to improve its interactions with companies around climate change.
A shareholder activist group, Follow This, has also criticised BlackRock for what it sees as a lack of action on climate change. One leader told Business Insider that the group was “absolutely not” responsible for the fake Wednesday letter.
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