From Portland activists:
In support of the Storm Skanska: Fracture Their Finances week of action, animal advocates in Portland decided to visit Michelle Gans, Director and Investment Management Consultant for BlackRock, at her Lake Oswego home. In her role as a regional Director, Michelle Gans oversees sales and distribution of BlackRock's portofolios throughout the Pacific Northwest. She is BlackRock's sole executive in the Portland area. She holds a position of influence in BlackRock's corporate hierarchy.
Gans claims to have an interest in animal welfare, so supporters of the campaign in Portland decided to pay her a visit to discuss her company's financing of Skanska's animal torture facility. When approached, Ms. Gans was cautious of why activists were visiting her at home. She repeatedly referenced the SHAC campaign against BlackRock in the Los Angeles area, acknowledging that her company has a past record of investing in animal abuse. BlackRock was a target of SHAC due to the stock it owned in AstraZeneca, one of the primary pharmaceutical companies that contracted with Huntingdon Life Sciences. Her executive cohorts in Southern California were the subject of SHAC pressure. BlackRock is well aware of the potential force of the animal liberation movement.
Ms. Gans said that BlackRock has the ability to control the companies in which its various funds own shares. She mentioned that BlackRock has instituted such corporate policies in the past, and that the company would not look forward to being dragged into another grassroots pressure campaign. She wanted nothing to do with the controversy and certainly didn't want BlackRock's poor corporate judgment to affect her or her fellow executives. She promised to approach corporate governance and BlackRock's legal team to pressure them to divest from Skanska. She even gave her email to be held accountable.
Portland activists will continue to hold Michelle Gans accountable as BlackRock's representative for the area. If her company continues its involvement with vivisection and the financing of animal research labs, then more pressure will be applied to executives around the country. Skanska's shareholders' meeting is around the corner. Now is the time for BlackRock to act.