Exxon's shareholder fight has the support of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and the Business Roundtable

Exxon Mobil Corp. is locked in a battle with activist investors who have tried to accelerate the oil giant's climate change commitments, and it turns out Exxon has sympathizers in some of the largest business lobbying groups in the United States.

The U.S. Chamber of Commerce and the nonprofit group Business Roundtable filed an amicus brief on Wednesday in support of Exxon, arguing that the SEC is too lenient in its shareholder letter. In other words: Just because an investor at the annual meeting wants to ask the company to do something, he or she shouldn't be able to truly I ask.

“By opening the door to shareholder proposals that push social and political agendas, the SEC has allowed a subset of activists to seize corporate proxy data for their own narrow goals,” the summary said. This comes at a time when Exxon is unwilling to let activists quietly reject the decision that started it all.

What were activist investors arguing?

In December, activist investors — Netherlands-based Follow This group and US-based Arjuna Capital — wanted Exxon to step up its 2050 net-zero commitment to combat not just its own emissions, but also those of its customers, and put the matter on the table. To vote by proxy (follow this Similar proposals In 2022 and 2023, shareholders overwhelmingly voted no in both cases.) Exxon in January File a lawsuit against them to drop this matterThis is the first time in history that a company has filed a lawsuit to block a shareholder resolution. Arjuna and follow this She reluctantly obliged and dropped the decision earlier this month.

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When the groups abandoned their proxy fight, Natasha Lamb, Arjona's chief investment officer, said in a statement: “The company is not only ignoring a critical corporate accountability mechanism that has upheld shareholder freedoms for decades; this amounts to intimidation and bullying tactics.”

But when the groups filed a motion to dismiss Exxon's lawsuit in federal court in Texas, Exxon asked a judge to dismiss the request because Arjuna and Follow This were waging “a perpetual campaign to advance their social agenda through shareholder proposals to ExxonMobil that seek to micromanage.” its actions and coordination with others to do the same.”

Exxon wants a judge to tell the groups they can never submit similar proxy statements again. Be silent forever, Basically. Now the collective voice of corporate America joins in saying: Yes, shut up.

“These proposals are expensive, time-consuming to process, and are rarely designed to enhance overall shareholder value,” Exxon said in its complaint. “Instead, they are often at odds with the interests of investors seeking returns.”

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