Protestors call on BlackRock to cancel Zambia’s debt

  • Campaigners demonstrated outside BlackRock’s London office on day of annual earnings release
  • BlackRock, the world’s richest asset manager, could make $180 million profit from Zambian debts for itself and its clients[1]
  • Zambian government set to repay twice what it borrowed despite economic crisis

Protestors from Jubilee Debt Campaign, Global Justice Now, Christian Aid and Action for Southern Africa today called on investment giant BlackRock to cancel Zambia’s debt.

Zambia is negotiating a debt restructuring with BlackRock and other lenders. BlackRock is Zambia’s largest known bondholder. Jubilee Debt Campaign has estimated that BlackRock could make $180 million profit for itself and its clients out of its investment in Zambian bonds if the debts are paid in full.[1]

Campaigners protested outside BlackRock with a big prop rock with a funnel in the top. Six people in suits and Larry Fink masks passed oversized Zambian currency to the top of a stepladder and funneled it into the top of the rock.[2] BlackRock announced today that across all its operations it has made $6.1 billion profit in the last 12 months.[3]

Wednesday April 13, 2022. Campaigners from Jubilee Debt Campaign demonstrate outside BlackRock in the City of London, demanding they cancel ZambiaÕs debt. Photo: David Mirzoeff/Jubilee Debt Campaign

Isaac Mwaipopo, a member of the Zambia Civil Society Debt Alliance, and Executive Director of the Centre for Trade Policy and Development, speaking from Zambia, said:

“Zambia’s debt crisis is preventing people getting access to healthcare, education and other social services. We urgently need all of Zambia’s lenders, including BlackRock, to agree to cancel debt so we can recover from the Covid pandemic and the economic crisis we face. Loans were given at high interest rates, and have been trading at low prices, so it is only fair lenders agree significant debt cancellation, rather than making mass profit out of the Zambian people.”

Heidi Chow, Executive Director of Jubilee Debt Campaign, said:

BlackRock is set to profit handsomely from Zambia’s debt crisis. Meanwhile Zambian people are experiencing cuts to vital public services as resources are diverted to debt payments. BlackRock needs to cancel the debt and if it refuses, then the UK and other G20 countries should support Zambia to stay in default to BlackRock, and pass legislation to make them accept debt cancellation.”

Daniel Willis, finance campaigner with Global Justice Now, said:

“Big banks like Blackrock often talk about the importance of sustainable investment, but when it comes to Zambia’s debt this is all hot air. The banks’ refusal, so far, to cancel Zambian debt is forcing unsustainable social spending cuts on the country and is holding back climate action. With Blackrock’s earnings report show that they can easily afford to shoulder some of the impact of Zambia’s debt crisis, we are calling on them to live up to their sustainability rhetoric and cancel Zambia’s debt now.”


[1] https://debtjustice.org.uk/press-release/blackrock-could-make-110-profit-out-of-zambias-debt-crisis

[2] Photos are available at: https://drive.google.com/drive/folders/1lPYn4awNGY5hrMvAZxZFJ82kxzJquMmL?usp=sharing 

[3] BlackRock’s earnings release shows that it has made $1.4 billion in the first three months of 2022: https://s24.q4cdn.com/856567660/files/doc_financials/2022/Q1/BLK-1Q22-Earnings-Release.pdf Previous earnings releases show net operating income of $1.4 billion, $1.7 billion and $1.6 billion in the final nine months of 2021, making $6.1 billion in total over the last twelve months. https://ir.blackrock.com/financials/quarterly-results/default.aspx

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