Fink Says BlackRock to Move Ahead With Business in Saudi Arabia

(Bloomberg) -- BlackRock Inc. Chief Executive Officer Larry Fink said his decision to withdraw from the upcoming conference in Saudi Arabia doesn’t mean his company will stop doing business with the country.

“It’s our intention at the moment to continue our relationships with Saudi," Fink said in a phone interview Tuesday. “It is our intention to continue to open an office in Saudi.”

Fink, who heads the largest asset manager, said the firm has relationships in countries around the world, including many where "we don’t approve of behaviors."

"The world for businesses is not black and white," Fink said.

Many prominent company leaders have said they won’t attend the Future Investment Initiative, which is scheduled to start in Riyadh next week, after the disappearance of a prominent Saudi government critic. Jamal Khashoggi, a Washington Post columnist, was last seen entering the Kingdom’s consulate in Turkey.

A year ago, Fink attended the FII conference, publicly praising the direction of the Saudi economy. The firm received local arranging and advising licenses earlier in 2018.

Fink said earlier Tuesday in an interview with CNBC that he wanted to see the conference delayed until there was an investigation into the matter.

“I had only one choice and that was to withdraw from the conference,” said Fink, who heard from many BlackRock clients and employees about the situation.

Fink added in the interview with Bloomberg that he will be monitoring the Saudi situation.

“If the facts are remarkably different than what we believe may be today, then we’ll see,” he said.

©2018 Bloomberg L.P.