At EXXON’S Shareholders Meeting on Wednesday, Resolution #5 received 39.5% of the vote, marginally shy of last year’s 40%. I was relieved as we early learned that the company was seriously soliciting investors to vote against our resolution. The realities of the proxy process are that an issuer has vast advantage. There are many large holders who want to provide 401(k) or other services or who have analysts who want continued favorable access. It is difficult under existing conditions for such holders to consider seriously their fiduciary obligations. Under those conditions, it is gratifying that we can – in a year in which EXXON’s recorded financial performance may be the best ever recorded – hold steady at 40%. If this is a base, we can work on expanding it.
A letter in support of the proposal by myself and members of the Rockefeller family, filed with the SEC on May 13, 2008, is availabe here. A CNBC video featuring my discussing the proposal is available here. The text of the proposal was as follows:
“RESOLVED, that the shareholders urge the Board of Directors to take the necessary steps to amend the by-laws to require that, whenever possible and subject to any presently existing contractual obligations of the Company, an independent director shall serve as Chairman of the Board of Directors, and that the Chairman of the Board of Directors shall not concurrently serve as the Chief Executive Officer.”
A summary of the 2008 proxy proposal votes is available here.