The Hedge-Fund Manager Who Did Battle With Exxon - and Won

Christopher James, who once owned a coal mine, was an improbable activist for change at the oil giant. But he was able to convince Wall Street’s biggest money managers to back his thesis. 12 June 2021  The Hedge-Fund Manager Who Did Battle With Exxon - and Won

Dawn Lim and Justin Baer of Wall Street Journal due an indepth review of Engine No.1’s campain at Exxon Mobil. The article that features commentary from Engine No.1’s founder, Christopher James, as to how he convinced Wall Street’s biggest money managers to back a dramatic change in board oversight at Exxon Mobil Corp., a watershed moment in the effort seeking more environmental, social and governance modifications at the nation’s biggest companies.

The article also features commentary from Anne Simpson of CalPERS and Ali Saribas of SquareWell. The Engine slate addressed a key concern that BlackRock and other shareholders such as the public pension giant CalPERS had with Exxon: Few on the board had any real energy industry experience. CalPERS, the public pension, was typically reluctant to support activist campaigns directed by hedge funds, told Anne Simpson to Wall Street Journal, the pension’s managing investment director for board governance and sustainability. But Exxon’s unwillingness to engage with shareholders called for bolder action, Ms. Simpson said to Wall Street Journal, noting the critical difference with Engine No. 1 was the fund’s focus on future performance.

“Engine No. 1 was an outlet for other shareholders to let out their frustrations,” commented Ali Saribas, a partner at shareholder advisory firm SquareWell Partners. “The stars were aligned” for this campaign to succeed.

You can access the full article here (subscription required).


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