A 91% Asset Plunge Hits a BlackRock Fund of Sustainable EM Stocks

A 91% Asset Plunge Hits a BlackRock Fund of Sustainable EM Stocks

(Bloomberg) — What was once the second-biggest exchange-traded fund investing in sustainable emerging-market companies just became a shadow of its former self.

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In the two days leading up to Christmas Eve, the iShares ESG MSCI EM Leaders ETF (LDEM) lost 91% of its investments, leaving its total assets depleted at about $69 million, compared with $803 million on Dec. 21. That’s the biggest two-day outflow for a developing-nation ETF this year, according to data compiled by Bloomberg.

Only one holder of LDEM’s shares owned enough to account for such a steep outflow, the data show: Ilmarinen, the Helsinki-based pension company that made a $600 million investment in the fund when it launched in February 2020.

A spokesperson at Ilmarinen declined to comment. A spokesperson for BlackRock confirmed there was an outflow in LDEM, but declined to comment further on the fund.

The blow comes less two years after the fund was launched with great success and the backing of Finland’s oldest pension company. LDEM tracks an index containing large and mid-cap emerging-market stocks that meet certain environmental, social and governance criteria. The fund’s number of shares outstanding dropped to just 1.2 million, the lowest ever.

Ilmarinen also owned shares of two similar funds, which buy ESG companies in the U.S., according to filings as of Sept. 30. Neither the iShares ESG MSCI USA Leaders ETF (SUSL) nor the Xtrackers MSCI USA ESG Leaders Equity ETF (USSG) suffered large outflows in recent weeks.

Shares of LDEM fell 3.5% this year to trade at $57.68 as of the close on Dec. 28, lingering near the lowest in over a year. The fund now has $75 million under management after adding about $6 million this week.

Another BlackRock fund, the iShares ESG Aware MSCI EM ETF (ESGE) remains the largest ETF investing in emerging-market sustainable companies, with $6.2 billion in assets. According to the firm, the assets under management in iShares’ sustainable ETFs and index funds globally “has doubled year-over-year across more than 180 sustainable fund solutions.”

(Updates with year-to-date share price change in seventh paragraph and BlackRock comment in final paragraph.)

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