Shareholders Reject ExxonMobil CEO-Chairman Split

Exxon Mobil Corp. shareholders on Wednesday rejected a resolution to bar its CEO, Rex Tillerson, from serving as the company’s chairman, Bloomberg news reported. The rejection also killed plans to have the company adopt greenhouse-gas reduction targets.

A proposal to split the CEO and chairman’s roles received 39.5% support at the company’s annual meeting in Dallas, less than the 50% required to force directors to reconsider their opposition. Initiatives to set pollution-reduction goals for Exxon Mobil refineries and hold non-binding shareholder votes on executive pay also failed, Bloomberg reported.

CEO Rex Tillerson was facing efforts by descendants of John D. Rockefeller to curb his influence in the company.

“This is much hullabaloo over something other than what everybody should be talking about,” Lizanne Thomas, who heads the corporate-governance practice at law firm Jones Day, said in a telephone interview from Atlanta. “The real goal here seems to be to make sure some of that profit is devoted to green causes, but splitting the chairman and CEO doesn’t do that.”

Tillerson, 56, led the company to a $40.6 billion profit in 2007, surpassing its own previous record for annual net income by a U.S. corporation set a year earlier.

ExxonMobil also elected Edward Whitacre Jr., the former AT&T chairman and CEO, to its board of directors at Wednesday’s annual shareholders meeting.

The company issued a press release that boasted its history of outpacing competitors in providing shareholder value, and said it is well positioned to meet global energy demand while protecting the environment.

“The past year was an outstanding year and a record for our corporation by nearly every measure,” Tillerson said at the meeting. “We achieved these results by delivering industry-leading safety performance, excellence in operations and environmental protection, strong governance and disciplined investment performance.”

The annualized return on investment for ExxonMobil shareholders was more than 24% per year over the past five years, tripling the value of an investment during that period, the company said. Put another way, $1,000 invested in ExxonMobil in 1987 is now worth nearly $19,000.


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