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George Osborne to join BlackRock as adviser

George Osborne, the former UK chancellor, is to join BlackRock, the world’s largest asset manager, as an adviser.

BlackRock’s chairman and chief executive Larry Fink said the company wanted Mr Osborne’s “unique and valuable perspective on the issues affecting the world”, citing his work helping the UK and the G20 to recover from the financial crisis.

“At the centre of our mission is helping people around the world save and invest for retirement, and George’s insights will help our clients achieve their goals,” Mr Fink said.

Mr Osborne will give his views and advice on European politics and policy, Chinese economic reform and trends such as low yields and longevity and their impact on retirement planning, BlackRock said in a statement. He will not engage in any lobbying of the British government, it added.

BlackRock wants better outcomes for pensioners and savers and I want to help them deliver that,” Mr Osborne said. “My goal is to go on learning, gaining new experience and get an even better understanding of the world.”

He joins Rupert Harrison, his former economic adviser, who has been a strategist at BlackRock since 2015.

The former chancellor will become a part-time senior adviser at the BlackRock Investment Institute from February. He expects to spend a day a week working for BlackRock; a friend said he would “still have plenty of time to address his constituents’ needs”.

The Advisory Committee on Business Appointments has approved the job. The level of his remuneration has not been disclosed but Mr Osborne will have to declare it in the register of MPs’ interests. As a backbencher Mr Osborne is paid £74,000 a year for doing his day job; as a cabinet minister he received nearly £70,000 more.

Both Mr Osborne and Mr Fink were at the World Economic Forum in Davos this week, where the former chancellor earned a six-figure sum for giving a speech at a private dinner event organised by HSBC.

One close friend of Mr Osborne said he had received several offers from Wall Street companies to join them as an adviser. However, he was reluctant to take a position that would force him to step down as an MP and thus rule out a return to front bench politics.

Mr Osborne was conscious that “the longer he waits, the more his market value will fall” in the eyes of Wall Street financiers seeking to benefit from his knowledge and contacts in the UK corridors of power, added the friend.

BlackRock is the world’s largest asset manager, wielding $5.1tn of client money to invest across the financial markets. As such it has become one of the most powerful financial companies and takes pains to build strong relationships with governments around the world.

Last month, Mr Fink, who had been widely tipped as a candidate for a post in a Hillary Clinton administration, agreed to sit on a new advisory council being set up by Donald Trump to advise his White House on the economy and job creation.

The asset management industry has provided a lucrative home for many former high-ranking politicians and officials. Gordon Brown, the former UK prime minister, works as a part-time adviser to Pimco, which competes with BlackRock in the fixed income markets. The BlackRock Investment Institute is headed by Philipp Hildebrand, former head of the Swiss National Bank.

Mr Osborne left office in July after six years at the Treasury and has since made more than £600,000 by giving a series of speeches to banks and other institutions around the world — including £34,000 from BlackRock in November. Last summer he joined the elite Washington Speakers Bureau, following in the footsteps of Mr Brown and former prime minister Tony Blair, who both earned speaking fees through the agency after leaving office.

In addition to his lucrative speaking and business engagements, the former chancellor is also spending time building the Northern Powerhouse Partnership, a think-tank he launched late last year.

David Cameron has also joined the international speaking circuit, addressing Bain Capital last year. While addressing business figures in Davos this week Mr Cameron reportedly joked about his availability for future speaking gigs.

Nick Clegg, the former deputy prime minister in the Cameron-led coalition government, has made more than £100,000 from speaking events last year, while Michael Gove, the former education and justice secretary, is now earning £150,000 a year as a columnist for The Times newspaper.

Mr Gove’s speeches are less lucrative than those of his colleagues: a recent session for PwC earned him just £5,000.

Via FT