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Woke corporate governance often stems from involved investment firms: Former Anheuser-Busch exec

A former Anheuser-Busch executive explains why he left the company, now embroiled in the Dylan Mulvaney controversy, and how investment firms and pension funds can dictate corporate politics.

Woke corporate governance, which recently led to the fiscal hemorrhaging of Anheuser-Busch and Target, often begins with investment firms pressuring them to behave in certain ways, a former executive at the beer conglomerate said.

Anson Frericks told "Jesse Watters Primetime" a lot of the lead-up to decisions — such as the one at his former firm involving transgender activist Dylan Mulvaney that led to a nationwide boycott of Bud Light — stem from the politicking of firms like New York-based BlackRock and Pennsylvania-based Vanguard.

Altogether, BlackRock, Vanguard and another firm, State Street, manage about $20 trillion in capital, Frericks said, noting it is not truly "their" money but that of the investments of Americans' mutual funds and state pension funds.

Frericks said in the case of one of the firms, it manages California's pension fund — the largest in the country — and that therefore California politicians can also have a say in the corporate governance and politicking of the firms they invest so heavily in.

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"In California, for example, they recently have mandated those large pension funds that they divest from things like fossil fuels and oil and gas, and then when Bill de Blasio, [former] mayor of New York, was there, he did the same thing," he said.

"But they also tell BlackRock, State Street and Vanguard if they're going to manage their money, they have to commit to things like ESG — diversity, equity, inclusion — and adopt firm-wide commitments that they therefore then force onto all the major companies in corporate America."

Frericks said he left his post at the St. Louis beer manufacturer in part because of the way much of corporate America was acting in terms of defying public sentiment when engaging in politics.

He pointed to Atlanta, home to Coca-Cola and Delta Airlines, which became outraged after Georgia's legislators passed election integrity laws.

Frericks said he was living in the city at the time and witnessed those companies' corporate responses to the legislative process — as well as that of Major League Baseball, which punished the state by moving the All-Star Game to more progressive Colorado.

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"You had the citizens of Georgia, they voted for representatives to make sure we could have election integrity laws. You have to have an ID to vote, and for that ID to vote — this seemed like a pretty logical law. I was kind of surprised in Georgia didn't have it," he said.

"But what was crazy to me was that after the fact, BlackRock came out and they said, 'We're against this law. We think this is bad for democracy, this is bad for society,' and they basically then had companies like Coca-Cola, like Delta and heck — even Major League Baseball, they canceled an All-Star Game over this."

Frericks said the trend seen in Atlanta and lately in other concerns is dangerous because it led to customer alienation and, using Coke as an example, politicizing its long-held role of "just delivering soft drinks."

"But frankly, it's bad for democracy as well. Citizens should be able to decide these things through free and fair elections, not necessarily with a small group of asset managers and CEOs that are telling individuals how to live their lives," he said.

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Host Jesse Watters said the political Left once "hated" Wall Street but now loves to partner with it for political means.

He pointed to a recent forum in which BlackRock CEO Larry Fink said it is important that companies his firm invests in "force[s] behaviors."

"And if you don't force behaviors, whether it's gender or race or just any way you want to say the composition of your team, you're going to be impacted." 

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