Asset manager tells clients how to remove gun stocks from stock portfolios: report
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BlackRock — the largest money manager by assets — is responding to pressure from clients who want to remove gun-related companies from their portfolios, The Wall Street Journal reported.

On Friday, BlackRock posted a notice on its website with the questions it recently asked its portfolio companies, which included questions on gun safety, background checks and litigation risks. 

After the Florida school shooting in February that left 17 dead, there has been mounting pressure on companies to reconsider their ties to the gun industry and the National Rifle Association (NRA).

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A number of companies have already cut their business ties with the NRA. Outdoor retailer REI also temporarily cut ties with Vista, a key outdoor gear supplier that also manufactures gun parts. Major retailers, including Walmart and Dick’s Sporting Goods, announced they will no longer sell guns to people under the age of 21.

BlackRock usually doesn’t make public the questions it asks companies but said that gun violence was “an issue of tremendous urgency.” 

BlackRock has met with clients to discuss what it is asking executives at gun companies and how they could divest their portfolios from gun stocks, the Journal reported.

While BlackRock can’t tell companies what to do, they can vote against directors in the company or in favor of specific shareholder proposals, the Journal reported.

Large asset managers have said they typically influence their portfolio companies without making demands and instead by asking questions about companies’ policies and actions. 

BlackRock said that it does not own any gun makers in its actively managed stock funds and that in its index-tracking funds, gun manufacturers only make up 0.01 percent of assets, the Journal reported.