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Activist Investor Wins Exxon Board Seats In Day Of Reckoning For Big Oil

Activist investor fund Engine No. 1 was victorious today in Exxon’s annual shareholder meeting on Wednesday.

Engine No. 1, small though it may be, was successful in obtaining at least two board seats at the oil giant after a devastating battle over Exxon’s board of directors. The vote on a third Engine No. 1-supported candidate is for now undecided, as it is too close to call. Engine No. 1 proved unsuccessful in its fourth candidate.

Engine No. 1 holds just a $54 million stake in Exxon.

Exxon, for its part, managed to get eight of its nominees on the board. There are twelve spots.

The win is being viewed as a shocking and powerful statement by shareholders as to their displeasure with the oil giant for not doing enough to mitigate the effects of its business on the climate. And For Exxon, it could mean big changes are coming.

Engine No. 1 nominated and threw its support behind four candidates, and managed to get other large pension funds in its corner in supporting those candidates. Funds supporting Engine No. 1’s candidates include New York State Common Retirement Fund, California Public Employees’ Retirement System (CalPERS), and California State Teachers’ Retirement System (CSTRS).

“We called for change at ExxonMobil, and a record number of shareholders, including many of the largest investors in the world, voted to hold the company accountable,” CalSTRS said in a statement on its website following the vote.

The candidates that Engine No. 1 had put forward were directors that had experience in energy industry transformation, who would factor climate change risks in a long-term business plan
instead of “just talking points”.

For Exxon, those “talking points” include $3 billion in carbon capture research and emissions-cutting technology as well as electing an ESG investor to its board in March.  Today’s vote suggests that this was not enough for shareholders.

Before Wednesday’s vote, some analysts were suggesting that Exxon CEO Darren Woods may be unable to hold onto his position as CEO should any of Engine No. 1’s candidates prove to be successful in solidifying a seat on the oil giant’s board.


By Julianne Geiger for Oilprice.com

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  • Mamdouh Salameh on May 27 2021 said:
    It is hardly a day of reckoning for Big Oil. It is too small to be detected on Big Oil’s radar.

    It won’t change the future direction of ExxonMobil. Oil and gas will continue to be the core business of ExxonMobil and the global oil industry well into the future.

    US oil giant ExxonMobil CEO Darren Woods and Occidental Petroleum CEO Vicky Hollub succinctly and eloquently made their position very clear on peak oil at the CERAWeek conference in March this year when both said that “reducing carbon emissions from fossil fuels and not the actual use of fossil fuels, offers the best way to combat climate change”.

    Dr Mamdouh G Salameh
    International Oil Economist
    Visiting Professor of Energy Economics at ESCP Europe Business School, London
  • Bill Simpson on May 26 2021 said:
    Going after Big Oil will begin to cause stagflation, probably beginning in a few years, as needed oil comes from fewer and fewer countries which can produce it the cheapest.
    More expensive energy caused by fewer and fewer suppliers is never good.
    The 'cheap oil' Gulf states, and Russia will be the huge winners, after private Western oil companies gradually shrink from lack of profits, and finally virtually disappear. If the Gulf sates and Russia play their cards right, and develop a strategic plan to limit oil supply, they will be able to collect tens of trillions in profits during the next 50 years. They will need to watch out for the Chinese military, which will dwarf all others before mid century, paying them a visit.
    As electric cars become popular, the elements needed to make the batteries will shoot up in price because they aren't exactly abundant in the Earth's crust. Not widely distributed either. So don't think you will be buying a cheap electric car in 2030. Check out the price of lumber lately. Supply and demand has doubled the price. And trees grow back. Minerals don't. So enjoy the cheap lithium batteries now. That won't last too much longer, as all the giant auto makers tool up to build millions of electric cars each year, due to government regulations banning the internal combustion engine powered ones.
    Trust me. You will miss Exxon, Chevron, Shell, BP, Total, and the rest of them. They provided the affordable, abundant energy which built the modern world. You life was a LOT easier because of them.

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