BlackRock was founded in 1988 by Larry Fink
, Robert S. Kapito
, Susan Wagner
, Barbara Novick, Ben Golub, Hugh Frater, Ralph Schlosstein, and Keith Anderson
to provide institutional clients with asset management services from a risk management perspective.
Fink, Kapito, Golub and Novick had worked together at First Boston
, where Fink and his team were pioneers in the mortgage-backed securities
market in the United States.
During Fink's tenure, he had lost $100 million as head of First Boston. That experience was the motivation to develop what he and the others considered to be excellent risk management and fiduciary practices. Initially, Fink sought funding (for initial operating capital) from Pete Peterson of The Blackstone Group
who believed in Fink's vision of a firm devoted to risk management. Peterson called it Blackstone Financial Management.
In exchange for a 50 percent stake in the bond business, initially Blackstone gave Fink and his team a $5 million credit line. Within months, the business had turned profitable, and by 1989 the group's assets had quadrupled to $2.7 billion. The percent of the stake owned by Blackstone also fell to 40%, compared to Fink's staff.
By 1992, Blackstone had a stake equating to about 35% of the company, and Schwarzman and Fink were considering selling shares to the public.
The firm adopted the name BlackRock in 1992, and by the end of that year, BlackRock was managing $17 billion in assets. At the end of 1994, BlackRock was managing $53 billion.
In 1994, Blackstone Group's Stephen A. Schwarzman
and Fink had an internal dispute over methods of compensation
and over equity.
Fink wanted to share equity with new hires, to lure talent from banks
, unlike Schwarzman, who did not want to further lower Blackstone's stake.
They agreed to part ways, so the BlackRock partners (Sue Wagner) orchestrated a deal to sell part of the company.
In June 1994, Blackstone sold a mortgage-securities unit with $23 billion in assets to PNC Bank Corp.
for $240 million.
The unit had traded mortgages and other fixed-income assets, and during the sales process the unit changed its name from Blackstone Financial Management to BlackRock Financial Management.
Schwarzman remained with Blackstone, while Fink went on to become chairman and CEO of BlackRock Inc.
In 1998, PNC's equity, liquidity, and mutual fund activities were merged into BlackRock.
In 2009, BlackRock first became the No. 1 asset manager worldwide.
In April 2009, BlackRock acquired R3 Capital Management, LLC and took control of the $1.5 billion fund.
On 12 June 2009, Barclays
sold its Global Investors unit (BGI), which included its exchange traded fund business, iShares
, to BlackRock for US$13.5 billion. Through the deal, Barclays attained a near-20% stake in BlackRock.
In 2010, Ralph Schlosstein, the CEO of Evercore Partners
and a BlackRock founder, called BlackRock "the most influential financial institution in the world."
On 1 April 2011, due to Sanofi's
acquisition of Genzyme
, BlackRock replaced it on the S&P 500
In 2013, Fortune
listed BlackRock on its annual list of the world's 50 Most Admired Companies.
In 2014, The Economist
said that BlackRock's $4 trillion under management made it the "world's biggest asset manager", and it was larger than the world's largest bank, the Industrial and Commercial Bank of China
with $3 trillion.
In May of the same year, BlackRock invested in Snapdeal
In December 2014 a BlackRock managing director in London was banned by the British Financial Conduct Authority
for failing the "fit and proper" test, because he paid £43,000 to avoid prosecution for dodging train fares. BlackRock said, "Jonathan Burrows left BlackRock earlier this year. What he admitted to the FCA is totally contrary to our values and principles."
By June 30, 2015, BlackRock had US$4.721 trillion of assets under management.
On August 26, 2015, BlackRock entered into a definitive agreement to acquire FutureAdvisor
a digital wealth management provider with reported assets under management of $600 million.
Under the deal, FutureAdvisor would operate as a business within BlackRock Solutions (BRS).
BlackRock announced in November 2015 that they would wind down the BlackRock Global Ascent hedge fund after losses. The Global Ascent fund had been its only dedicated global macro fund, as BlackRock was "better known for its mutual funds and exchange traded funds." At the time, BlackRock managed $51 billion in hedge funds, with $20 billion of that in funds of hedge funds.
In March 2017, the Financial Times
announced that BlackRock, after a six-month review led by Mark Wiseman
, had initiated a restructuring of its $8bn actively-managed fund business, resulting in the departure of seven portfolio managers and a $25m charge in Q2, replacing certain funds with quantitative investment strategies.
In May 2017, BlackRock increased its stake in both CRH plc
and Bank of Ireland
By April 2017, iShares
business accounted for $1.41tn, or 26 percent, of BlackRock's total assets under management, and 37 percent of BlackRock’s base fee income.
In April 2017, BlackRock backed the inclusion of mainland Chinese shares in MSCI's global index for the first time.
Between October and December 2018, BlackRock's assets dropped by US$468bn and fell below $6tn. It was the largest decline between quarters since September 2011.
As of 2019, BlackRock holds 4.81% of Deutsche Bank
, making it the single largest shareholder.
This investment goes back to at least 2016.
In May 2019, BlackRock received criticism for the environmental impact of its holdings.
It is counted among the top three shareholders in every oil "supermajor
" except Total
, and it is among the top 10 shareholders in 7 of the 10 biggest coal producers.
In August 2020, BlackRock received approval from the China Securities Regulatory Commission
to set up a mutual fund business in the country. This makes BlackRock the first global asset manager to get consent from China to start operations.
In January 2020, PNC
sold its stake in BlackRock.
For the fiscal year 2017, BlackRock reported earnings of US$4.970 billion, with an annual revenue of US$12.491 billion, an increase of 12.0% over the previous fiscal cycle. BlackRock's shares traded at over $414 per share, and its market capitalization was valued at over US$61.7 billion in October 2018.
As of 2018, BlackRock ranked 237 on the Fortune 500
list of the largest United States corporations by revenue.
Mergers and acquisitions
BlackRock's largest division is iShares
, a family of over 800 exchange-traded funds (ETFs) that comprises more than $1 trillion in assets under management. iShares is the largest provider of ETFs in the U.S. and in the world.
In 2000, BlackRock launched BlackRock Solutions, the analytics and risk management division of BlackRock, Inc. The division grew from the Aladdin System
(which is the enterprise investment system), Green Package (which is the Risk Reporting Service) PAG (portfolio analytics) and AnSer (which is the interactive analytics). BlackRock Solutions (BRS) serves two roles within BlackRock. First, BlackRock Solutions is the in-house investment analytics and “process engineering” department for BlackRock which works with their portfolio management teams, risk and quantitative analysis, business operations and every other part of the firm that touches the investment process. Second, BlackRock Solutions (BRS) and the three primary divisions are services that offered to institutional clients. As of 2013, the platform had nearly 2,000 employees.
BlackRock differentiates itself from other asset managers by claiming its risk management is not separate. Risk management is the foundation and cornerstone of the firm's entire platform.
Aladdin keeps track of 30,000 investment portfolios, including BlackRock's own along with those of competitors, banks, pension funds
, and insurers. According to The Economist
, as at December 2013, the platform monitors almost 7 percent of the world’s $225 trillion of financial assets.
After discussions with firearms manufacturers and distributors, on April 5, 2018, BlackRock introduced two new exchange-traded funds
(ETFs) that exclude stocks of gun makers and large gun retailers, Walmart
, Dick’s Sporting Goods
, Sturm Ruger
, American Outdoor Brands Corporation
, and Vista Outdoor
, and removing the stocks from their seven existing environmental, social and corporate governance
(ESG) funds, in order “to provide more choice for clients seeking to exclude firearms companies from their portfolios.”
Global warming activities
Despite BlackRock's attempts to model itself as a sustainable investor, one report shows that BlackRock is the world’s largest investor in coal plant developers, holding shares worth $11 billion among 56 coal plant developers.
Another report shows that BlackRock owns more oil, gas, and thermal coal reserves than any other investor with total reserves amounting to 9.5 gigatonnes of CO2 emissions – or 30 percent of total energy-related emissions from 2017.
Concerned about global warming
, environmental groups including the Sierra Club
and Amazon Watch 
launched a campaign called BlackRock's Big Problem in September 2018.
In this campaign, these groups assert that BlackRock is the "biggest driver of climate destruction on the planet", due in part to its refusal to divest from fossil fuel companies
On January 10, 2020 a group of climate activists rushed inside the Paris offices of Black Rock France painting walls and floors with warnings and accusations on the responsibility of the company in the current climate and social crises
On January 14, 2020, BlackRock CEO Laurence Fink
declared that environmental sustainability would be a key goal for investment decisions. BlackRock announced that it would sell $500 million worth of coal-related assets, and create funds that would avoid fossil-fuel stocks, two moves that would drastically shift the company's investment policy.
Environmentalist Bill McKibben
called this a "huge, if not final, win for activists."
But BlackRock's support for shareholder resolutions requesting climate risk
disclosure fell from 25% in 2019 to 14% in 2020 according to Morningstar Proxy Data.
Common ownership of large corporations
By investing clients' 401(k)s and other investments, BlackRock is a top shareholder in many competing publicly traded companies.
For example, see the percentage of shares held by BlackRock in: Apple (NasdaqGS: 6.34%)
and Microsoft (NasdaqGS: 6.77%),
Wells Fargo & Co (NYSE: 4.30%)
and JPMorgan Chase & Co (NYSE: 4.41%).
This concentration of ownership has raised concerns of possible anticompetitive behavior.
A 2014 study titled "Anticompetitive Effects of Common Ownership" analyzed the effects of this type of common ownership on airline ticket prices.
The study found that 'Prices go up and quantity goes down when the airlines competing on a given route are more commonly owned by the same set of investors.'
The authors note that this price increase does not necessarily imply conscious collusion among the common owners, but could perhaps be that these firms are now 'too lazy to compete' with themselves.
BlackRock is a shareholder in many institutional investors that own shares in Blackrock. This chain of ownership is similar to circular ownership structures which have been identified in the United Kingdom, for example.
Blackrock and ESG objectives into EU banking rules
The European Ombudsman opened an inquiry in May 2020
to inspect the Commission's file on the European Commission's decision to award a contract to BlackRock Investment Management to carry out a study on integrating environmental, social and governance risks and objectives into EU banking rules ('the prudential framework'). European Parliament members questioned
the impartiality of the world's largest asset manager given its investments already in the sector.
In his 2018 annual letter to shareholders, BlackRock CEO Laurence D. Fink stated that other CEOs should be aware of their impact on society. Anti-war organizations objected to Fink’s statement,
because BlackRock is the largest investor in weapon manufacturers through its iShares U.S. Aerospace and Defense ETF.
In May 2018, anti-war organizations held a demonstration
outside the annual BlackRock shareholder’s meeting in Manhattan, New York.
On March 4, 2021, Sen. Elizabeth Warren suggested that Blackrock should be considered "too big to fail".
Due to its power, and the sheer size and scope of its financial assets and activities, BlackRock has been called the world's largest shadow bank
In 2020, U.S. Representatives Katie Porter
and Jesús "Chuy" García
proposed a bill to Congress aiming to restrain BlackRock and other so-called shadow banks.
The non-profit American Economic Liberties Project
issued a report highlighting the fact that currently "the ′Big Three′ asset management firms—BlackRock, Vanguard and State Street—manage over $15 trillion in combined global assets under management, an amount equivalent to more than three-quarters of U.S. gross domestic product."
The Report called for structural reforms and better regulation of the financial markets
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