BlackRock (NYSE:BLK), the world’s largest money manager, with nearly $6 trillion in assets, “will be engaging with weapons manufacturers and distributors to understand their response to recent events,” Ed Sweeney, a spokesman at the firm, said Friday in a statement emailed to FOX Business. BlackRock, according to Thomson Reuters, is the largest shareholder in American Outdoor Brands (NASDAQ: AOBC), the company that manufactured the AR-15-style semiautomatic rifle used in the Florida school shootings that killed 17, as well as Sturm Ruger (NASDAQ: RGR). It also has a sizeable position in Vista Outdoors. (NYSE:VSTO). None of the three gun makers responded to requests for comment from FOX Business. These holdings, BlackRock clarified, are triggered by indexes, not human stock pickers.
“Index providers are responsible for the construction of their indices,” said Sweeney. “As a fiduciary, we have a responsibility to replicate the indices our clients choose to invest in.”
BlackRock invests in a company as long as it’s in a relevant index such as the S&P SmallCap 600 Index or the Russell 2000 Index.
Sturm Ruger CEO Chris Killoy said Thursday during a conference call that “like all Americans, we also struggle with the shock and sadness of these horrible events. The gun maker is facing with falling sales.
BlackRock CEO Larry Fink, who supported Hillary Clinton in her quest for the White House, wrote last month in an annual letter to CEOs that society is demanding that companies both public and private serve a social purpose.
“To prosper over time, every company must not only deliver financial performance, but also show how it makes a positive contribution to society,” Fink wrote.
He said that since 2011, Michelle Edkins, the firm’s global head of investment stewardship, has helped transform its practice from one predominantly focused on proxy voting toward an approach based on engagement with companies.