Largest asset manager wins backing for jumbo board
By Ross Kerber
BlackRock Inc said all of its 16 director nominees received strong investor support at its annual meeting on Thursday, at which Chief Executive Laurence Fink defended the size of the company's large board.
The world's largest asset manager, running some $7 trillion (£5.73 trillion), said each nominee received about 94% support from investors. That same proportion voted in favor of the company's executive pay at the meeting, held via teleconference, the company said.
BlackRock's board is bigger than those of rival financial firms like State Street Corp and JPMorgan Chase & Co, each with 11 members.
Questioned about its size during the meeting, Fink acknowledged his board may be "a little bigger than other boards" but said it provides a range of perspectives on areas like technology and sustainability.
"I really believe that the size of our board is what we make of it," Fink said.
BlackRock had 17 directors until the resignation this month of William Demchak, chief executive of PNC Financial Services Group, in connection with the recent sale of its 22% stake in the asset manager.
Pressed on climate topics, Fink and others defended the company's approach to proxy voting, on which it has vowed to take a harder line, and cited BlackRock's support for corporate climate-impact reporting.
But Fink also said the company must represent the views of a wide range of clients.
"We're trying to make sure that we are representing the ideas, the needs of our clients. Of our clients who happen to be in one particularly-leaning part of the country, versus, a client in another particularly-leaning part of the country," Fink said.
(Reporting by Ross Kerber; Editing by Bernadette Baum)