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News Every Day |

Renewable energy and big oil might finally mix as activist investor wins two of four Exxon board seats

Exxon x Renewable Energy
When the pandemic obliterated oil demand, Exxon posted a $22 billion loss last year - its first ever annual loss as a public company.

Hello! This story is from today's edition of Morning Brew, an awesome daily email publication read by 2.5 million next-generation leaders like you. Sign up here to get it!

If you thought the beef between Brooks and Bryson was spicy, you should check out the boardroom blowout at ExxonMobil. Following a vote at the company's shareholder meeting yesterday, the activist investment firm Engine No. 1 won at least two of the four board seats it was aiming for. This could mean monumental changes for the US' largest oil producer.

The backstory: In December, Engine No. 1, then a brand new hedge fund, bought ~$40 million of Exxon shares-just 0.02% of the company-and sent a letter to the board with a simple request: Invest in clean energy, or else. The firm wants CEO Darren Woods to commit to bringing Exxon's carbon emissions to zero by 2050.

Woods's response: No. He thinks the company's more incremental steps to address climate concerns, such as investing billions into carbon-capture tech, are sufficient.

What followed was a fight in which both sides spent a combined $65 million convincing shareholders to vote for their preferred board members.

How can an investor with only 0.02% have that much power?

Like Glacier Freeze Gatorade, Exxon's financial performance ain't what it used to be. Former CEO Rex Tillerson and now Woods presided over a "decade of value destruction," Engine No. 1 claimed, rallying some bigger shareholders to its side.

Then, the pandemic obliterated oil demand, and Exxon posted a $22 billion loss last year, its first ever annual loss as a public company. After almost a century in the Dow Jones Industrial Average, Exxon was booted from the index in August (though its share price has rebounded ~47% in the past six months).

As if there weren't enough ????emojis in the Big Oil group chat yesterday, Shell was hit with a historic L of its own. A Dutch court ordered the oil giant to cut emissions 45% from 2019 levels by 2030, more than double what it originally projected.

What we learned yesterday: If oil companies refuse to make a green transition on their own, outside interests will make sure they do.

This story is from today's edition of Morning Brew, a daily email publication. Sign up here to get it!

Read the original article on Business Insider

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