Activist investors have successfully led a shareholder uprising against ExxonMobil
Hedge fund Engine No. 1 isn't very large by any capacity, controlling a relatively small stake in ExxonMobil. Yet, the fund was able to convince other investors to support its candidates for Exxon's board of directors, attracting the pension funds of several states as well as additional hedge funds. While votes are still being counted, at least two seats have already been confirmed to Engine No. 1's candidates.
While Engine No. 1 is pushing Exxon to invest more in eco-friendly energy, the push doesn't stem from environmentalism but rather from the fund's umbrage with Exxon's lack of strategy for a post-fossil fuel future. In fact, Engine No. 1 found so much support because of the broader array of problems that other shareholders had with the firm, with the most prominent complaint being that Exxon wasn't communicating with investors.
The intersection of communication and the future of the energy sector, however, is how Engine No. 1 was able to bring two of Exxon's biggest investors to the table: Vanguard and BlackRock
"Over the years, we have shared with Exxon our concerns about the lack of energy sector expertise in its boardroom and questions about board independence, and for years, we did not witness sufficient progress on either front" Vanguard mentioned in a statement.
The ability of Engine No. 1 and its allies to pressure Exxon going forward will be contingent on how effective its postings are. There were, however, some analysts who seemed to speculate that Exxon's current CEO may not be able to remain in his position for long should Engine No. 1's effort succeed.
Exxon's stock seems to have felt the downward pressure, ending the week 1.2% down.