BlackRock Makes Shareholder Push

Money manager plans to leverage $3.3 bln in client assets to encourage investor-friendly practices.

BlackRock Inc., the world’s biggest money manager, is looking to leverage its $3.3 trillion of client assets by embarking on an unprecedented campaign to urge corporations to adopt shareholder-friendly practices.

Laurence D. Fink, BlackRock’s chief executive officer, said in a letter yesterday to 600 of its biggest holdings, including Apple Inc., Coca-Cola Co., BNP Paribas SA and Deutsche Telekom AG, that his firm “seeks to engage in dialogue” with management to address issues that will be raised this year at shareholder meetings.

BlackRock also undertakes what it describes as “event-driven” engagements with companies when something happens that could harm shareholders in a specific industry group, Edkins said. The firm started discussions with energy companies after a well operated by BP Plc spewed oil into the Gulf of Mexico in April 2010. BlackRock was London-based BP’s largest shareholder as of the end of that year, according to data compiled by Bloomberg.

Edkins says BlackRock isn’t interested in managing or interfering in the day-to-day operations of companies it holds. BlackRock will seek conversations on broader topics, including independent boards at companies, executive pay and succession planning, she said.

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