(Bloomberg) — BlackRock Inc. said Saudi Aramco Chief Executive Officer Amin Nasser is joining its board, reflecting the asset manager’s commitment to the Middle East as part of its long-term strategy.
Nasser has led the world’s biggest oil producer since 2015, including overseeing its public listing, and provides BlackRock with “a unique perspective” on key issues facing the company and its clients, CEO Larry Fink said Monday in an emailed statement.
“His leadership experience, understanding of the global energy industry and the drivers of the shift toward a low-carbon economy, as well as his knowledge of the Middle East region, will all contribute meaningfully to the BlackRock board dialogue,” Fink said in the statement.
Bader Al-Saad, director general and chairman of the Arab Fund for Economic and Social Development, won’t stand for re-election to BlackRock’s board next year, according to the statement.
BlackRock and Fink, 70, found themselves at the center of a debate over ESG investing after they promoted the trend as a way to help the global economy respond to climate change. Environmental advocates criticized the firm for not reducing fossil fuel investments even more, while some Republicans have lambasted it for promoting “woke” goals and harming local economies dependent on the energy industry.
Read more: Aramco’s $28 Billion Cash Injection Reveals Hidden ESG Loophole
At times, Nasser has taken issue with the ESG movement, warning in February that an increased focus on it was undermining investment in oil and gas to the point where it posed a threat to the world’s energy security. He serves on several boards, including the Massachusetts Institute of Technology Presidential CEO Advisory Board and the JP Morgan International Council.
BlackRock, the world’s biggest asset manager, has a $2.4 billion interest in the oil producer, according to data compiled by Bloomberg.
—With assistance from Simon Casey and Gerson Freitas Jr..