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Activist hedge fund Bluebell challenges BlackRock’s leadership 

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London-based activist hedge fund Bluebell Capital Partners has set its sights on BlackRock, the world’s largest asset manager, with a proposal to oust Larry Fink, the company’s Founder, from his position as Chairman, according to a report by the Wall Street Journal. 

The report cites a proxy statement filed by BlackRock with the Securities and Exchange Commission in revealing Bluebell’s proposal of a shareholder resolution seeking to amend BlackRock’s bylaws, which would require Fink, as Chairman, to become an Independent Director, ensuring greater accountability and oversight.

Bluebell faces the hurdle of having to convince BlackRock’s large asset-management peers to vote against the recommendation of BlackRock’s board, while its holdings in BlackRock are modest and likely constitute less than 0.01% of the company’s $120bn market capitalisation. 
Fink has been at the helm of BlackRock since co-founding the company in 1988. In recent years, his advocacy for environmental, social, and governance (ESG) investing have drawn criticism, though he stated in 2023 that he had distanced himself from the acronym due to its use becoming “weaponised”.

In a presentation to shareholders, Bluebell contends that BlackRock’s 17-member board lacked independence and is too large to effectively oversee Fink, also highlighting “numerous contradictions and inconsistencies” between BlackRock’s stated ESG strategy and its actual implementation. The hedge fund clarified that its proposal was not intended as a vote of no confidence in Fink, however.

In response, BlackRock’s proxy filing acknowledges the proposal but asserts that it is not in the best interest of shareholders, writing: “The board determined once again this year that the service of Mr. Fink as both BlackRock’s CEO and chairman is the most appropriate and effective leadership structure.”

BlackRock added that its BlackRock shares have posted a 9,000% total return under Fink’s leadership.

In January, Bluebell called for British oil giant BP to ditch its commitment to cutting oil and gas output, having acquired a small stake in London-listed BP last October, granting the hedge fund a meeting with BP’s chairman.

Bluebell Capital Partners was co-founded by Giuseppe Bivona and Marco Taricco in 2019 and has previously targeted Danone, Bayer and Glencore.

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