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Exxon investors propose ban on green activism

 

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Exxon investors propose ban on green activism

It could be the nuclear option to silence rebellious investors. A libertarian activist has hit back at ExxonMobil’s environmental critics by tabling a resolution that would outlaw shareholder social activism.

The Free Enterprise Action Fund, which controls $11m (£5.5m) of assets, has proposed amending Exxon’s articles of association to prevent the oil company’s shareholders from putting forward advisory resolutions at annual meetings.

The fund’s managing partner, Steven Milloy, opposes a coalition led by the Rockefeller family that is calling on Exxon to pay more attention to global warming. “They’re not bona fide shareholders,” Milloy says. “They’re not shareholders who are invested in Exxon because they think it’s a good investment – they’re shareholders who want to use Exxon to advance their social and political agenda.”

By a quirk of scheduling, Milloy’s resolution will be the first to be heard at tomorrow’s annual meeting, which promises to be a rancorous affair in Dallas.

His proposal tops a list of 17 motions, some demanding changes to executive pay, but four of them, sponsored by the Rockefellers, intended to make Exxon pump funds into alternative energy sources such as wind and solar power.

A number of British institutions are backing a call by the Rockefellers for Exxon to appoint an independent chairman who can broaden boardroom debate.

Exxon has stopped short of endorsing the action fund’s ban on shareholder activism, but the oil company wants the rules tightened to make it harder for investors to speak up at its meetings.

“We understand the Securities and Exchange Commission is looking at the larger question of the appropriateness of shareholder resolutions and the criteria for them,” said an Exxon spokesman. “We think that’s probably a good way to go.”

http://www.guardian.co.uk/business/2008/may/27/exxonmobil.oil

 

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