BlackRock CEO defends pushing for value more than profits

BlackRock CEO defends pushing for value more than profits
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Updated 18 January 2022

BlackRock CEO defends pushing for value more than profits

BlackRock CEO defends pushing for value more than profits
  • Larry Fink, chief executive of the world’s biggest asset manager BlackRock Inc. has defended its focus on the interests of society as well as on profits as business sense

BOSTON/LONDON: Larry Fink, chief executive of the world’s biggest asset manager BlackRock Inc. has defended its focus on the interests of society as well as on profits as business sense, but drew criticism from campaigners for not going far enough.

Asset managers increasingly analyze corporate performance on environmental, social and governance-related issues, to bolster returns as policymakers push for greater action over issues including climate change and diversity.

In his annual open letter, Fink built on themes he has raised in previous January missives to CEOs, calling on them to find a purpose and to take account of issues including climate change as part of stakeholder capitalism, whereby companies seek to serve the interests of all connected to them.

“Stakeholder capitalism is not about politics,” Fink said in the letter late on Monday, entitled The Power of Capitalism.

He said it was not 'woke' and did not have an ideological agenda, but was capitalist in that it was based on mutually beneficial relationships.

Fink, 69, defended BlackRock's stance in engaging with companies on the transition to a low-carbon economy rather than divesting, saying the companies cannot be the “climate police” but should work with governments.

"Divesting from entire sectors – or simply passing carbon-intensive assets from public markets to private markets – will not get the world to net zero,” he said. “And BlackRock does not pursue divestment from oil and gas companies as a policy.”

While Fink had used previous letters to announce concrete actions by BlackRock, including the introduction of a tougher threshold for some funds to invest in coal, the dirtiest fossil fuel, campaigners said the latest letter was a missed opportunity.

“There’s not much to see here other than more hot air from a would-be climate leader,” said Ben Cushing, Fossil-Free finance campaign manager with the Sierra Club.

“Larry Fink’s latest letter to CEOs is just another rehashing of the same vague rhetoric, without any meaningful new commitment to actually help lead the necessary transition to a climate-safe future," Cushing added.

Nevertheless, overseeing $10 trillion as of Dec. 31, BlackRock is one of the most influential voices in U.S. and European boardrooms, making Fink’s annual letter a must-read.

In Monday’s letter, Fink unveiled plans to launch a Center for Stakeholder Capitalism to create a “forum for research, dialogue, and debate.” The center will help to explore the relationships between companies and their stakeholders, he said.

Fink also said that BlackRock is working to expand an initiative for investors to use technology to cast proxy votes.

“We are committed to a future where every investor – even individual investors – can have the option to participate in the proxy voting process if they choose,” he said.

After years of criticism from activists focused on climate and other ESG issues, BlackRock changed course in 2021 and cast a much more critical set of proxy votes such as backing calls for emissions reports or the disclosure of workforce diversity data.

At the same time the fund manager has faced challenges from conservative U.S. politicians. On Monday, West Virginia State Treasurer Riley Moore said his agency would no longer use a BlackRock liquidity fund, where it kept $21.8 million as of Jan. 6.


Abu Dhabi’s Borouge to float 10% share; eyes ADX listing in June.

Abu Dhabi’s Borouge to float 10% share; eyes ADX listing in June.
Updated 11 sec ago

Abu Dhabi’s Borouge to float 10% share; eyes ADX listing in June.

Abu Dhabi’s Borouge to float 10% share; eyes ADX listing in June.
  • The listing is expected to raise about $2 billion, with the business valued at roughly $20 billion

RIYADH: Borouge, a joint venture between Abu Dhabi National Oil Co. and Austrian chemicals producer Borealis, plans to float a minority stake in the company on the Abu Dhabi Securities Exchange.

The Abu Dhabi-based company aims to go public with the listing of 10 percent of its shares, by early June this year, Bloomberg reported.

The listing is expected to raise about $2 billion, with the business valued at roughly $20 billion, the source added.

Borouge, founded in the late 90s, produces plastics used in a wide range of products, from automobiles to food packaging to medicine vials and plumbing systems. 

The company plans to begin its offering for retail investors on May 23, and run through May 28.


Inflation rise not caused by traditional factors: FAB chief economist

Inflation rise not caused by traditional factors: FAB chief economist
Updated 2 min 38 sec ago

Inflation rise not caused by traditional factors: FAB chief economist

Inflation rise not caused by traditional factors: FAB chief economist

DUBAI: A rise in inflation across the world is not being driven by traditional factors, but due to political reasons, said Simon Ballard, chief economist at the First Abu Dhabi Bank, during the ongoing Top CEO forum in Dubai. 

According to Ballard, some of the factors that contribute to inflation are the ongoing tensions between Ukraine and Russia, supply chain disruptions and lockdown in China due to the Covid-19 pandemic.

He noted that the increase is a double-edged sword that comes as a derivative driven by excessive demand, adding that ongoing inflation is now significantly pushing the costs of daily life. 

 


Aramco likely to keep dividends at 2021 levels after record profit: Al Rajhi Capital

Aramco likely to keep dividends at 2021 levels after record profit: Al Rajhi Capital
Updated 20 min 1 sec ago

Aramco likely to keep dividends at 2021 levels after record profit: Al Rajhi Capital

Aramco likely to keep dividends at 2021 levels after record profit: Al Rajhi Capital
  • Al Rajhi Capital had earlier forecasted a slightly lower profit of SR140 billion for the oil major

RIYADH: Following record first-quarter results by Saudi Aramco, Al Rajhi Capital said it expects the oil giant to maintain dividends at 2021 levels this year.

The annual dividend per share is anticipated at SR1.4 ($0.4), the same as last year’s payout, although it can potentially raise it to SR1.7 per share, the investment firm said in a recent report.

Saudi Aramco recently posted an 82 percent profit surge from SR81 billion to SR148 billion for the first quarter of the ongoing year — the highest since its listing in 2019.

Al Rajhi Capital had earlier forecasted a slightly lower profit of SR140 billion for the oil major.

It attributed the above-estimate profit to lower production costs in addition to a 30 percent jump in oil prices, driven by strong energy demand, low crude inventories, and geopolitical factors.

“We believe we are still far away from the peak of oil demand globally, which could be upwards of 110 million barrels per day by 2030, when Aramco could increase its market share to 10 percent, to 11 million barrels per day,” said Mazen Al-Sudairi, financial analyst at Al Rajhi.

“Our target price for the stock remains unchanged at SR42 per share,” he added.


Oil Updates — Crude climbs; EU, Hungary split over Russian embargo; Malaysia’s Kimanis crude exports to fall in July

Oil Updates — Crude climbs; EU, Hungary split over Russian embargo; Malaysia’s Kimanis crude exports to fall in July
Updated 27 min 10 sec ago

Oil Updates — Crude climbs; EU, Hungary split over Russian embargo; Malaysia’s Kimanis crude exports to fall in July

Oil Updates — Crude climbs; EU, Hungary split over Russian embargo; Malaysia’s Kimanis crude exports to fall in July
  • Hungary’s Foreign Minister Peter Szijjarto said on Monday that the total cost for Hungary to wean itself off Russian energy would be up to 18 billion euros ($19 billion)

RIYADH: Oil prices extended gains on Wednesday on hopes of demand recovery in China as the country gradually eases some of its strict COVID-19 containment measures.

Brent crude futures were up 48 cents, or 0.4 percent, at $112.41 a barrel at 0410 GMT, while US West Texas Intermediate crude futures climbed 93 cents, or 0.8 percent, to $113.33 a barrel, paring some losses after oil prices fell by around 2 percent in the previous session.

EU, Hungary split over Russian oil embargo

The EU and Hungary are negotiating financial support for Budapest so that it lifts its veto on the bloc’s planned embargo on Russian oil, but they remain split over funds for refineries, sources told Reuters on Tuesday.

The EU commission this month proposed a new package of sanctions against Russia for its invasion of Ukraine, which would include a total ban on oil imports in six months’ time, but the measures have not yet been adopted, with Hungary being among the most vocal critics of the plan. 

Hungary’s Foreign Minister Peter Szijjarto said on Monday that the total cost for Hungary to wean itself off Russian energy would be up to 18 billion euros ($19 billion).

But in talks with the EU, Budapest has indicated that a much smaller figure could be enough in the short-term to address its concerns.

It has demanded about 750 million euros to be invested in expanding an oil pipeline that connects the country to Croatia, and to convert refineries that run on Russian oil to different types of crude, Szijjarto and sources said.

Of these funds, up to 550 million euros would be needed to upgrade two refineries run by Hungarian energy group MOL in Hungary and Slovakia which can currently only process Russian oil.

MOL had said the cost for the upgrade will be between $500 million and $700 million.

The EU has repeatedly shown its backing to the expansion of the Croatian pipeline, but is dithering about offering Hungary full support to convert private refineries, as that could be an unfair aid in breach of the bloc’s competition rules, one official familiar with the talks told Reuters, adding that talks were underway about how much could be offered.

The official also said that Hungary’s alternative request to fully exempt piped oil from sanctions against Russia was “a complete no go.” Hungary receives 65 percent of its oil from a Russian pipeline.

Malaysia’s Kimanis crude exports to fall in July

Exports of Malaysia’s flagship Kimanis crude will fall in July following outages at two offshore oil fields that produce the oil, according to a source familiar with the matter and a preliminary loading program.

There will be six Kimanis crude cargoes loading in July, including one cargo rolled over from the previous month, the program showed.

(With input from Reuters)

 


Dallah Healthcare posts strong quarterly earnings as hospital occupancy rises

Dallah Healthcare posts strong quarterly earnings as hospital occupancy rises
Updated 28 min 54 sec ago

Dallah Healthcare posts strong quarterly earnings as hospital occupancy rises

Dallah Healthcare posts strong quarterly earnings as hospital occupancy rises

RIYADH: Riyadh-listed company Dallah Healthcare has posted solid profit and revenues for the first quarter of 2022, mainly supported by an increase in patient occupancy rates.

 Net profit surged by 59 percent to SR86.9 million ($23 million) and sales hit SR609 million, up 23 percent from the same period a year ago, the company said in a filing to Tadawul.

The growth in revenues came on the back of higher hospital admissions during the quarter.

The healthcare group also cited an improvement in operational efficiency when compared to last year, which led to a lower cost to revenue ratio.