UBS has lost a municipal underwriting deal in Texas as a result of the state comptroller’s decision to treat the firm as boycotting the fossil fuel industry, according to news reports.
The Swiss-based firm’s municipal-underwriting subsidiary had won an auction on August 8 to underwrite a bond deal for Texas' Normangee Independent School District, Bloomberg writes.
Two weeks later, UBS landed on a list of 10 firms that Texas Comptroller Glenn Hegar deemed as boycotting the energy industry, a key sector in the state’s economy.
The Texas attorney general’s office told the district that it wouldn’t approve the bond sale with UBS as the underwriter, Aaron Reitz, the state’s deputy attorney general for legal strategy, said in an email, according to Bloomberg. Subsequently, the district resold the bonds last week and brought on RBC Capital Markets as underwriter, the news service writes.
Mark Ruffin, the district’s superintendent, declined comment to Bloomberg.
A UBS spokesperson told the news service in an emailed statement that the bank has asked the comptroller to remove the company from the list.
“We recently met with the Texas Comptroller’s Office to better understand the rationale for our inclusion on its list and reinforce the importance of the energy industry and Texas to our business with the aim that UBS be considered for removal from the list,” the statement said.
Asset-manager giant BlackRock, which also made it onto Hegar’s list, took a similar approach, with BlackRock's U.S. business head Mark McCombe telling the Financial Times that the firm “never turned our back on Texas oil and gas companies.”
At the same time, BlackRock has defended its stance on environmental, social and governance-related initiatives.
In response to accusations by 19 Republican state attorneys general that the firm didn’t seek the best possible return on investment for its clients — while trying to “intentionally restrain and harm the competitiveness of the energy markets” — BlackRock said its “participation in these initiatives is entirely consistent with our fiduciary obligations.”