A majority of shareholders selected at least two of the four directors appointed by Engine No 1, a hedge fund that has been running a proxy campaign since December, saying the oil and gas group’s focus on fossil fuels had it put in “existential risk”.
The activists ‘victory marked a huge step forward in activists’ efforts to place the climate crisis at the center of U.S. capitalism and the global oil trade, supporters said.
“This is a historic moment for Exxon and for the industry, and will accelerate the necessary changes in the industry,” said Andrew Logan, senior director of oil and gas at Ceres, who coordinates climate action for the industry. investors.
“Nothing focuses a director’s mind like the possibility that he will lose his job. Today, this risk has become very real, ”he added.
Exxon revealed preliminary voting results at the end of a long annual general meeting that included an unusual hour-long intermission and lengthy question and answer session with Darren Woods, president and CEO.
Shareholders elected Gregory Goff, former chief executive of petroleum refining company Andeavor, and Kaisa Hietala, a former petroleum executive who helped make refiner Neste the world’s largest producer of renewable diesel.
Woods said he had “heard from shareholders about their desire to catalyze change. . . and we are well placed to respond ”.
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The results added to a murderous day for the Big Oil company. A Dutch court has asked Royal Dutch Shell to aggressively cut emissions, while shareholders of Chevron, the second-largest US oil company after Exxon, convincingly voted for a resolution calling on the company to cut emissions. pollution of the products it sells.
Exxon’s vote follows months of pressure from the No.1 engine, which urged the company to cut capital spending and focus “on accelerating rather than postponing the energy transition.” towards cleaner energy.
The hedge fund has a stake of just $ 54 million in a company with a market capitalization of $ 248 billion. Exxon shares rose 0.7% to $ 58.64 after the vote tally on Wednesday.
The proxy battle was onerous, with Exxon claiming it would spend at least $ 35 million on shareholder solicitations and the No.1 engine expected $ 30 million. The company has even contacted a few small shareholders in an attempt to galvanize opposition to the hedge fund.
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