British backing for Rockefeller revolt at ExxonMobil

Posted on 21 May 2008 by The Manufacturer

The shareholder rebellion led by the Rockefeller family within ExxonMobil has now established British backing, with a host of investors this side of the Atlantic supporting calls for a change to the governing structure of the global oil giants.

The row relates to the reluctance on behalf of the company under Rex Tillerson’s guidance to commit to eco-friendly research and practice. Tillerson’s detractors, which now include the British-based F&C Asset Management, Morley Fund Management, the Co-operative Insurance Society, Universities Superannuation, Railpen Investments and the West Midland Pension Fund, feel an independent chairman would be better suited to make decisions on the company’s future welfare.

At the company’s annual meeting in Texas next week, shareholders are to vote on whether or not the roles of chief executive and chairman, both held by Tillerson since 2006, should remain as one. The scores of Rockefellers, who remain the longest continuous stakeholders in ExxonMobil since their descendent John D Rockefeller founded an oil company that today forms the basis of the company, feel the lack of initiative and investment in alternative fuel and environmentally friendly technology will see the company fall behind competitors such as BP, who have made their own exploits in this particular area widely known in recent times.

Karina Livtack, F&C Asset Management’s director of governance and sustainable investment, said: “the company’s record over the last decade, particularly regarding climate change, demonstrates that debate has been lacking… By bringing in an independent chairman, the company can better leverage that creativity and challenge, and avoid over-dominance by management.”

The Guardian report that while $25 billion has been allocated by Exxon to carbon-based fuel, their green efforts extend only to footing the $100 million bill of a Stanford University project on climate change. The company maintain that they believe their current set-up represents the most effective option and that large environmental investment is financially unsound at this time.