Exxon Mobil Corp. shareholders today rejected a proposal to force separation of the board chairman and CEO positions. The proposal received approval from 39.5% of shareholders in a preliminary count at the annual meeting, down from 40% at last year, according to Exxon Mobil. Rex W. Tillerson currently holds both positions. The board at Exxon Mobil, Irving, Texas, recommended against the proposal in a proxy statement filed with the SEC.
The proposal was supported by California Controller John Chiang and Maryland Treasurer Nancy K. Kopp. Mr. Chiang serves on the boards of the $250.5 billion California Public Employees Retirement System and $169.2 billion California State Teachers Retirement System, both in Sacramento. Ms. Kopp is chairwoman of the $37.5 billion Maryland State Retirement & Pension System, Baltimore. Combined, the funds own $4.4 billion in Exxon Mobil stock.
CalPERS will continue to work for separating the roles at Exxon Mobil and at other companies in its portfolio, spokesman Clark McKinley said.
Members of the family of John D. Rockefeller, founder of Exxon Mobil predecessor company Standard Oil Co., also supported the proposal. Today, family members Peter ONeill and Neva Rockefeller Goodwin issued a statement claiming victory: Our goal from the outset of this effort was to get shareholders more engaged with Exxon Mobil management and vice versa. In view of the unprecedented outreach effort mounted by Exxon Mobil to solicit votes from institutional and retail investors, we have succeeded in doing that in a way that appears to herald the long-overdue beginning of two-way communications between our company and its owners.