BlackRock cuts stake in US coal giant after climate pledge

(Image courtesy of Peabody Energy)

Less than a month after vowing to unwind its investments in coal, BlackRock Inc. has cut its stake in the biggest U.S. miner.

The world’s largest asset manager now has about 4.87 million shares of Peabody Energy Corp., a 5% stake, according to a regulatory filing Friday. That’s down 14% from the end of December, making it the miner’s sixth-largest holder, according to data compiled by Bloomberg.

The move follows BlackRock’s announcement in January that it would put climate change at the heart of its strategy, a plan that includes exiting both debt and equity investments in thermal coal companies in its $1.8 trillion active portfolios. Financial companies around the world are facing increasing pressure to back away from the dirtiest fossil fuel to help fight global warming.

Climate is now a “defining factor” for the global economy, BlackRock Chief Executive Officer Larry Fink told shareholders in his annual letter.

A BlackRock spokesman did not have an immediate comment.

On Wednesday, Peabody’s biggest shareholder — activist investor Elliott Management Corp. — moved to increase control over the mining company. Peabody’s shares are down more than 70% in the past year as the coal industry faces waning demand from utilities and slumping prices.

(By Will Wade)

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