This week, a former Anheuser-Busch executive appeared on Fox News’ “Jesse Watters Primetime,” where he explained what is driving the leftist agenda in America’s board rooms. Anson Frericks worked at Anheuser-Busch for almost 11 years, concluding his career at the company as the President of Sales & Distribution.
The Jesse Watters segment discussed the issue of why companies are “Bud Light-ing” themselves and continuing to make decisions that lead to boycotts and declining sales. Many have wondered why any company would continue to insert itself into contentious social or political issues after several high-profile examples of companies going woke and going broke, such as Target and Bud Light. Together, these two companies have hemorrhaged tens of billion in market value for their respective shareholders.
Frericks discussed how giant asset management firms such as Black Rock, State Street, and Vanguard have been pushing ESG and DEI agendas onto companies because government officials have incentivized them to dos so. He points out that those three firms alone manage roughly $20 trillion worth of capital, gathered from 401k and large pension funds, often from state-backed entities, giving them considerable influence.
The former AB InBev executive then explained that in some liberal states, such as California and New York, mandates require large pension funds to be politically conscious with their investments. This often translates to divesting in fossil fuels and the oil industry. Furthermore, Frericks alleges these politicians at the state level will require these big asset management firms to make ESG and DEI commitments across their respective firms. Therefore, this pushes the woke agenda onto corporate America indirectly if companies want to attract investment, Frericks continues.
Frericks provided a real-life example of this happening in action. He recounted living in Atlanta in 2021, where the citizens of Georgia voted for officials campaigning on election integrity. He then stated BlackRock opposed such conservative initiatives, leading to many large companies such as Coca-Cola, Delta, and Major League Baseball getting into the political issue. Frericks illustrated why it is terrible for these corporate giants to get involved in politics to such a degree. He claimed it’s bad for companies because it alienates their consumer base. Furthermore, he alleged that it infringes on the democratic interests of citizens because it gives unprecedented influence to a small group of asset managers.
In 2022, Frericks became a co-founder of Strive Asset Management, which seeks to combat the woke activism of other investment firms. The anti-woke investment firm was also co-founded by 2024 Republican primary candidate Vivek Ramaswamy while attracting support from conservative activist Peter Thiel and legendary investor and CEO of Pershing Square Capital Bill Ackman. According to Strive’s website:
Many large asset managers are redefining the purpose of American for-profit corporations by pushing companies to shift their priority from shareholders to other stakeholders – anyone potentially affected by a corporation’s actions, such as suppliers, local and national communities, and the environment.
At Strive, we reject this shift. Unlike our competitors, we are unapologetically committed to shareholder primacy and believe that the purpose of a for-profit company is to maximize long-run value to investors.
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