BlackRock hires ex-UK finance chief as adviser

Osborne will advise on China’s economic reform and European politics

PUBLISHED : Saturday, 21 January, 2017, 1:34am
UPDATED : Saturday, 21 January, 2017, 1:34am

Former British finance minister George Osborne, who lost his job after Britain’s vote to leave the European Union, will join BlackRock as an adviser next month, the world’s largest asset manager said on Friday.

Osborne, 45, became the country’s youngest finance minister in more than 100 years when he was appointed in 2010 to spearhead an austerity drive by the Conservative-led government following the global financial crisis. He was widely considered a likely future prime minister.

A prominent campaigner for Britain to remain in the EU, Osborne remains a member of parliament.

Osborne will work as a part-time senior adviser to the BlackRock Investment Institute, an arm of the asset manager that serves as a think tank on investment strategy.

In its recent outlook for 2017, the group warned about “a forest fire of populism around the world,” and said that it may become increasingly hard to generate high returns from investing.

Osborne resigned as finance minister shortly after the June “Brexit” vote that roiled markets.

“George has a unique and invaluable perspective on the issues that are shaping our world today,” BlackRock Chief Executive Larry Fink said in a statement.

Osborne will advise on European politics, Chinese economic reform, and the impact of low investment yields and other trends on retirement planning, according to the statement.

The role was approved by the British government’s Advisory Committee on Business Appointments on the condition that Osborne did not draw on privileged information he received as finance minister and that he refrain from personally lobbying the government on behalf of BlackRock or its clients until July 2019.

“It will be written into your contract that you will not be expected to be involved in any work for, or seek work with, the UK Government,” a letter from the committee said.

BlackRock managed US$5.1 trillion at December 31.

Osborne’s appointment continues a long tradition of high-profile political appointments to financial firms. Former prime minister Gordon Brown sits on the global advisory board at investment manager Pacific Investment Management Co (Pimco) as does former US Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke. Brown’s predecessor Tony Blair joined JPMorgan Chase & Co in 2008 shortly after leaving office.

Former British foreign minister William Hague was appointed senior adviser to Wall Street bank Citigroup earlier this week.

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