© Reuters. FILE PHOTO: The BlackRock logo can be seen outside the New York offices
By Kate Abnett
BRUSSELS (Reuters) – The European Commission has announced that it will force companies to disclose conflicting interests when bidding on EU-funded contracts after investigating the appointment of a division by BlackRock (NYSE 🙂 to help develop green banking rules.
The European Union's watchdog raped the Commission in November over the appointment of the Financial Markets Advisory (FMA) unit of BlackRock, the world's largest asset manager, to conduct a study highlighting the EU's plans to incorporate sustainability into banking supervisory rules shows.
European Ombudsman Emily O'Reilly (NASDAQ 🙂 did not ask the Commission to terminate the contract, but said it should have better examined BlackRock's motivation to bid, its pricing strategy and its own conflict of interest avoidance measures.
In a response published on Monday, the Commission said it would consider proposing changes to EU law to require businesses and organizations to disclose conflicts of interest when bidding on EU-funded contracts.
Further guidance is also being considered to assist staff in public procurement.
"The Commission is considering possible clarifications relevant to the procedure to be followed when a professional conflict of interest is at stake in a procurement procedure," she said.
The Ombudsman welcomed the response from the EU executive, which reflected his own proposals. The Ombudsman will monitor the proposed changes, it said.
BlackRock did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
BlackRock beat eight other bidders with its offer of 280,000 euros – roughly half the estimated value of the EU treaty. The asset manager said he would ensure a "physical separation" of the FMA to ensure that no information flows into other parts of his business.
Any change to EU financial regulation would have to be approved by the Member States and the European Parliament. The Commission is expected to propose an update of the regulation by the end of the year.
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