Exxon Meeting Halts With Late Votes Being Tallied Amid Feud

(Bloomberg) — Exxon Mobil Corp. halted its annual shareholders assembly Wednesday to offer the corporate extra time to depend the votes, indicating a proxy struggle with an activist investor is finely poised.

“Given there are considerable number of votes still coming in and we want to ensure all of our shareholders have the opportunity to express their views, we will now take a one hour recess,” Stephen Littleton, head of investor relations, mentioned in the course of the digital assembly.

Shareholders got the chance to vote on a slate of 4 dissident nominees proposed by Engine No. 1, an funding agency pushing for Exxon to make modifications to its monetary and local weather methods. The assembly is ready to renew at 11:15 a.m. Dallas time.

Engine No. 1’s marketing campaign has gained backing from a number of institutional shareholders and partial help two outstanding proxy advisory corporations. The election of simply one of many 4 nominees can be an unprecedented occasion for Exxon, which has endured a troublesome few years amid low oil costs, a string of losses and a file writedown on a few of its property.

Earlier on Wednesday, Engine No. 1 issued a press release urging buyers to not change their vote. It mentioned Exxon was making an attempt to steer shareholders to alter their vote in a manner that may reduce the general tally for a number of of its nominees that may in any other case have been added to the board.

Following the beginning of recess, the funding agency mentioned the transfer was a “last-ditch attempt to stave off much-needed board change.”

“In seeking to delay the closing of the polls, ExxonMobil is using corporate machinery for its own purpose rather than that of shareholders and avoiding the election of individuals with the transformative energy experience required to position the Company for long-term success in a changing world,” it mentioned.

By taking extra time to depend votes, Exxon could also be making an attempt to keep away from an identical state of affairs to what occurred to Procter & Gamble Co. in 2017, when the corporate prematurely declared victory in warding off billionaire investor Nelson Peltz in his battle for a board seat.

In that case, Peltz refused to concede defeat, and a month later an impartial inspector overturned the unique tally. Peltz then claimed his seat with a margin of 42,780 votes, or roughly 0.0016% of the patron large’s excellent shares, the inspector decided.

Similar conditions have occurred up to now. In 2014, activist investor Sandell Asset Management Corp. claimed it had gained at the least 5 of the eight seats it was looking for at Bob Evans Farms Inc. earlier than the official tally confirmed it gained 4.

In 1996, buyers Carl Icahn and Bennett S. Lebow gained a nonbinding shareholder vote at RJR Nabisco Holdings Corp., supporting the fast spinoff of the corporate’s meals enterprise from its tobacco unit. The firm had beforehand mentioned it gained, primarily based on the preliminary outcomes of the vote.

(Updates with remark from activist in sixth paragraph)

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