ExxonMobil's Tillerson Under Pressure

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ExxonMobil's Tillerson Under Pressure

DALLAS -- Calls for an independent chairman of Exxon Mobil Corp. and the removal of CEO Rex Tillerson from that board post may be answered today as the biggest U.S. oil producer holds its annual shareholder meeting here, where a vote on a resolution to bar the CEO from holding the chairman position will take place, Bloomberg News reported.

Despite leading the company to a record $40.6 billion in profit last year, Tillerson recently faced opposition from numerous camps including the California Public Employee's Retirement Systems and Peter O'Neil, the great-great grandson of company founder John D. Rockefeller, reported Bloomberg News. A growing number of shareholders want the company to focus on alternative energy research and development in an attempt to address climate change issues.

"I don't understand why they're not investing more in alternatives," O'Neil, who leads a Rockefeller family committee dealing with ExxonMobil issues, told Bloomberg News in a telephone interview. "I want shareholder value to increase, and I think it can if they make incremental changes and diversify into other areas."

O'Neil told the news agency he has met on and off with company executives to discuss petroleum alternatives for two years. However, due to a confidentially agreement, he could not discuss details.

On May 12, ExxonMobil sent the following statement via e-mail to its 30 largest U.S. shareholders: "The board believes very strongly that there is no single best organizational model that would be most effective in all circumstances. The board believes that the most effective leadership structure for ExxonMobil at the present time is for Mr. Tillerson to serve as both chairman and CEO."

Since Tillerson, 56, became CEO in 2006, shares of ExxonMobil rose 66 percent with a current market value of $479 billion, according to the report. The Rockefellers, who collectively own 332,174 of the company's 5.4 billion shares, also support a resolution urging ExxonMobil to study whether it can reduce harm to poor countries from climate change by developing more renewable fuels, reported Bloomberg News.

"Kerosene was the alternative energy of that day, when my great-grandfather realized it could replace whale oil," Neva Rockefeller Goodwin said at an April 30 meeting with reporters in New York, according to the report. "In today's changing energy environment, we're urging ExxonMobil to get back to its strong historical roots in order to better position itself for the future of the industry."