The US investment giant, BlackRock, has stated that is responding to the recent school shooting in the US by engaging with firearms manufacturers and retailers to understand what they are doing to reduce the risk of this kind of event happening again.
BlackRock said there are three publicly traded companies in the US whose primary business is firearms manufacturing: American Outdoor Brands, Vista Outdoor and Sturm, Ruger. BlackRock added that none of these firearms manufacturers were held in its active equity portfolios. However, the three companies represent 0.01% of total assets of BlackRock’s index equity products.
The companies within an index cannot be sold by BlackRock, it said whatever its view of a company however to address concerns it can now offer its clients a choice of products that exclude firearms manufacturers and/or retailers if clients choose to do so and will engage with firearms manufacturers and retailers in which our clients are invested regarding business policies and practices.
As part of its corporate engagement, BlackRock said it regularly speaks with company management and directors to understand their company’s business strategies and their response to changing dynamics in their industry and society at large. Since the shooting in Florida BlackRock said it was engaging with the firearms manufacturers and retailers. Specific questions the fund manager has raised with manufacturers include asking about their strategy and process for managing the reputational, financial and litigation risk associated with manufacturing civilian firearms; asking how they determine where they will allow their products to be distributed and asking what strategies they use to monitor how your products are being sold.
Retailers are being questioned on the types of firearms they currently sell; what their policies and practices are for determining to whom they will sell firearms and what steps they take to ensure compliance with relevant laws regarding who may or may not purchase firearms.
Commenting on its approach to proxy voting BlackRock said based on its engagement conversations and its long-term view of the company, it may vote against specific directors or vote against management on shareholder proposals.Last Updated: 9 March 2018