LONDON — BlackRock, the world’s biggest asset manager, has set up a unit called Transition Capital to invest in opportunities linked to the global shift to a low-carbon economy, a memo to staff seen by Reuters showed.
BlackRock, which manages around $8 trillion in assets, said Transition Capital would work with portfolio managers and BlackRock’s capital markets team to find and back “proprietary transition-focused opportunities” across asset classes and geographies.
The group would also work with BlackRock colleagues to develop new investment strategies and funds, and help deepen the company’s research in the area, the memo said.
“Our dialog with clients, CEOs of established and startup companies, and government leaders tells us that they are all looking for even more ways to work directly with BlackRock,” the memo said.
“They are looking for a trusted partner who can provide the patient and flexible sources of capital to transform their portfolios, businesses, industries, and countries. Our aim is to be the clear global leader.”
The move comes ahead of the next round of global climate talks in Egypt in November, and as policymakers and regulators increasingly push companies and investors to speed up their efforts.
It follows a tough period for BlackRock as its position on climate change has drawn criticism from some right-leaning politicians that it was effectively boycotting fossil fuels, cause of the bulk of man-made greenhouse gas emissions.
At the same time, though, it has also faced criticism from campaigners for not using its position to greater effect by cutting back finance to heavy emitting sectors and helping accelerate change in the real economy.
The new unit will be part of BlackRock Alternatives and run by Dickon Pinner, who previously led on sustainability at consultant McKinsey, where he advised on the transition, the memo said.
Pinner also worked on clean technologies whilst at McKinsey and has experience in the oil and gas industry as a reservoir engineer, the memo said.
Pinner will report jointly to Edwin Conway, Global Head of BlackRock Alternative Investors, and the company’s vice-chair, Philipp Hildebrand.
As well as joining the BlackRock Alternatives Executive Committee, Pinner will also sit on senior sustainability committees, the memo said. (Reporting by Simon Jessop; Editing by Susan Fenton)