North Carolina Retirement Systems, Raleigh, will withhold its votes for the election of five ExxonMobil Corp. directors at Wednesday's annual meeting to protest the reward of excessive compensation to executives "for massive profits generated by climbing oil and gas prices," according to a news release from state Treasurer Richard Moore, trustee of the $72 billion systems.
The five nominees are Michael J. Boskin, James R. Houghton, William R. Howell, Reatha C. King and Henry A. McKinnell Jr.
They "have served as members of the compensation committee over the last five years and, therefore, should have taken steps to rein in … the high pay and retirement package" awarded to Lee R. Raymond when he retired last December as chairman and CEO. Mr. Moore estimates Mr. Raymond's pay and retirement package at $400 million.
Of the targets, only Messrs. Houghton, Howell and King are current members of the committee. Mr. Moore didn't target Walter V. Shipley and Samuel J. Palmisano, who are the other members. Mr. Palmisano was named to the board in January.
"As shareholders, we are outraged that executives are using soaring gas prices, which are hitting consumers at the pump, to fatten their own wallets," Mr. Moore said in the release. "These profits are being generated not through superior decision-making but rather through forces outside the CEO's control. As an owner of the company, we would like to fire these directors for not doing their jobs and giving away our money. The excessive pay packages, like that seen at ExxonMobil, diminish shareholder value and are evidence of policies that fail to generate long-term value for shareholders."
The systems hold nearly 11 million ExxonMobil shares, worth $662.6 million, according to the release.