Exxon Mobil Chairman and CEO Rex Tillerson will retain both of those jobs at the world's biggest publicly traded oil company after a highly...
Exxon Mobil Chairman and CEO Rex Tillerson will retain both of those jobs at the world’s biggest publicly traded oil company after a highly public, Rockefeller-led push to split the roles failed again Wednesday.
Stripping Tillerson of the chairman’s job in favor of an independent director was the focus of the annual shareholders meeting at a downtown symphony hall.
In the end, the measure won support of only 39.5 percent of shareholders, slightly less than last year’s 40 percent, despite a hard push by descendants of John D. Rockefeller, the founder of Exxon Mobil predecessor Standard Oil.
A variety of institutional investors also lined up behind the proposal.
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After the meeting, Tillerson, who’s held both positions since 2006, said continued strong support to change Exxon Mobil leadership — despite massive profits in recent quarters — was not lost on him.
“It just reemphasizes to me the importance of our continuing efforts to communicate better with shareholders and with the public and with policymakers,” Tillerson said.
Introduced primarily by environmental-minded investors and shareholder activists, they sought such changes as quantitative goals for reducing greenhouse-gas emissions, a voice for shareholders on executive compensation and a report on the likely consequences of climate change for developing countries and poor communities between now and 2030.
This marked the seventh time the proposal to split the roles of chairman and CEO had been considered.
Rockefeller family members and others have said they’re concerned Exxon Mobil is too focused on short-term gains from soaring oil prices and should do more to invest in cleaner technology.
“It’s crucial for every company to ask, ‘Is it doing all it can to prepare for the future?’ The Rockefeller family believes now is precisely the time for Exxon Mobil, with its strong financial performance, to take the long-term steps needed to increase shareholder value,” said Peter O’Neill, John D. Rockefeller’s great-grandson.
Exxon Mobil has said the Rockefellers who have filed or co-filed shareholder resolutions own a total of about 332,000 shares.
At the end of last year, Exxon Mobil had 5.3 billion shares outstanding.
Tillerson said, as he has in the past, Exxon Mobil will continue to spend the bulk of its profits on finding and producing new supplies of crude oil and natural gas.
The company predicts global-energy demand will annually grow an average 1.3 percent from 2005 to 2030. It often cites government forecasts that say fossil fuels will continue to provide about 80 percent of energy supplies in 2030.
“Notwithstanding the growth in all of the other options for supplying energy — renewables, nuclear, biomass, alternatives — the world’s going to require substantially fossil fuels to meet its energy needs,” Tillerson said. “And two-thirds … of that is going to come from oil and natural gas.”
Oil, Tillerson said, is simply a necessity of life.
“Whether people like that or not, that’s just a fact,” he said.
“You can run but you can’t hide. That’s what you’re going to be using 25 years from now.”
Also Wednesday, Chevron Chief Executive David O’Reilly faced intense criticism from environmentalists and human-rights advocates who detailed their grievances at the annual shareholders meeting.
Activists took advantage of the gathering at Chevron headquarters in San Ramon, Calif., to blast Chevron during the meeting for alleged environmental and human-rights abuses in Ecuador, Nigeria and Myanmar.
Outside, protesters in white protective suits waved broom-shaped “Clean Up Chevron” signs at the front entrance.
Despite activists’ efforts to draw attention to the alleged abuses, Chevron shareholders soundly rejected six resolutions that would create new company policies on human rights and environmental protection.
Associated Press reporter Terence Chea contributed to this story.