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Exxon Mobil CEO Rex Tillerson

Exxon Mobil Shareholder Meeting Features Fight Over Alternative Energy

May 29, 2008 01:02 PM
by Josh Katz
Rex Tillerson, chairman and CEO of Exxon Mobil, won a key battle against the Rockefeller family at Wednesday’s annual shareholder meeting, retaining both of his job titles.

30-Second Summary

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Seventy-three of the 78 direct descendants of John D. Rockefeller sought to exert their influence on the future of the world’s largest independent oil company by sponsoring a resolution to split the roles of CEO and chairman to insert more checks and balances. The family owns shares in many of the companies that sprang from Standard Oil, and at the Exxon Mobile shareholder meeting, they argued that Tillerson was not doing enough to invest in alternative energy.

Tillerson was able to maintain both of his jobs, as only 39.5 percent voted in favor of splitting the roles. The resolution vote was nonbinding, but was still seen by analysts as a statement on Tillerson’s power and the company’s future.

In the Sovereign Society blog, Mike Burnick supports the Rockefellers in their endeavor, saying that pursuing alternative energy would be the most profitable decision. According to Burnick, “The future is about alternative energy sources, the Rockefeller family knows it, and they’re forcing America’s biggest oil & gas company to listen.”

But Peter Foster of the Financial Times contends that the Rockefellers don’t even have the company’s financial interests in mind. “The notion that the Rockefellers’ priority is the maximization of shareholder value seems a bit of a stretch, particularly since Exxon Mobil is one of the most profitable corporations on Earth.” He asks rhetorically, “doesn’t it suggest that the company was rather shrewd in sticking to the knitting in the face of fashionable calls for energy diversification?”

Headline Link: ‘Exxon Chief Defeats Challenge’

Opinion & Analysis: Thoughts on the Rockefellers, renewable energy and Exxon Mobil’s future

Analyzing the Rockefeller family
The case for alternative energy
In opposition to the Rockefellers

Historical Context: The history of Exxon and Mobil

Related Topics: Evelyn Davis

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