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More support for Exxon Mobil dissidents’ proxy fight

 

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THE ASSOCIATED PRESS May 19, 2008, 8:37AM ET

More support for Exxon Mobil dissidents’ proxy fight

NEW YORK

Four U.K.-based investors and a British proxy advisory firm publicly joined a group of dissident shareholders calling for an independent chairman at Exxon Mobil Corp. on Monday.

The four investors are F&C Asset Management, Co-operative Insurance Society, Morley Fund Management, and West Midlands Pension Fund.

In addition, PIRC Ltd., a proxy advisory firm based in London, has recommended that its clients support the proposal. The proposal is already backed by RiskMetrics Group, Glass Lewis and Proxy Governance Inc.

Exxon Mobil Chairman and Chief Executive Rex W. Tillerson has served in both roles since 2006. The separation effort is being led by longtime shareholder activist Robert A.G. Monks.

“Despite top-notch individual directors, the company’s record over the last decade, particularly regarding climate change, demonstrates that debate has been lacking,” said Karina Litvack, director of governance and sustainable investment at F&C Asset Management. Litvack added that an independent chairman will help avoid “over-dominance by management.”

“Exxon has a track record of generating good returns to shareholders,” said Anita Skipper, head of corporate governance at Morley Fund Management. “However, we believe that the returns would be more sustainable under a governance structure which separated the roles of chairman and chief executive.”

Descendants of John D. Rockefeller, the founder of Exxon Mobil predecessor Standard Oil Corp., and other prominent shareholders have been calling for the roles to be split, with some saying the company is too focused on short-term gains.

Exxon Mobil’s board has said the most effective leadership structure is for Tillerson to remain both chairman and CEO.

Shareholders are expected to vote on the proposal at Exxon Mobil’s annual meeting on May 28.

http://www.businessweek.com/ap/financialnews/D90ONAK01.htm

 

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