BlackRock hires sustainability head for alternatives unit

The asset management giant has hired Partners Capital's ESG and impact head to take over from Teresa O'Flynn, who takes on a new position.

Asset management giant BlackRock has hired Kristen Weldon – a veteran impact investor and latterly head of ESG and impact for Partners Capital – as global head of sustainable investing in its BlackRock Alternative Investors unit.

In an internal memo seen by New Private Markets, the leadership of BlackRock Alternative Investors said that Weldon would “continue to drive our agenda to embrace ESG and sustainable investing principles at the centre of our business and lead important initiatives such as developing a comprehensive framework for assessing climate risk”.

BlackRock Alternative Investors, led by global head Edwin Conway and CIO Jim Barry, manages $283 billion in real estate, infrastructure, private equity, credit and hedge funds. In terms of recent sustainability-related developments, the firm raised $4.8 billion in April for its third renewable energy fund, almost doubling its $2.5 billion target. In the same month it linked up with Singaporean investor Temasek to launch Decarbonization Partners, a partnership to launch a series of late-stage VC and early growth private equity investment funds to invest in technologies with the potential to contribute towards net zero.

In July this year, the firm also held a first close on the Climate Finance Partnership. Originally announced at the One Planet Summit in Paris in September 2018, the Climate Finance Partnership is a blended finance vehicle that seeks to accelerate the flow of capital into climate-related infrastructure in the emerging markets.

BlackRock has also joined the ranks of private markets firms to launch a private equity impact investing strategy. The firm registered BlackRock Private Equity Impact Capital in Luxembourg in June, according to filings seen by New Private Markets. It is unclear how much the fund is targeting and BlackRock declined to comment at the time.

London-based Weldon joins BlackRock from Partners Capital, an outsourced CIO business originally founded to manage the personal capital of wealthy individuals in general partners. She joined that business in February this year to help integrate ESG into its investment processes and build up its impact investing portfolio. Prior to Partners Capital, Weldon established a sustainability-focused fund management unit within food and agriculture conglomerate Louis Dreyfus Company. She also spent 13 years at Blackstone, where she was co-head of the London office for its hedge fund solutions business.

At BlackRock she will step into a role recently vacated by Teresa O’Flynn who will “take on a new role as founding member of Decarbonization Partners”, the internal memo states. “Teresa will continue to help shape Decarbonization Partners and we will have more news on this strategy in the coming months.”