UNITED STATES: The Rockefellers call for change in Exxon leadership

UNITED STATES: The Rockefellers call for change in Exxon leadership
The Rockefellers, The founding family behind ExxonMobil has embarrassed the board by joining critics of the world's largest publicly-quoted oil company and called for a management shake-up which could change its attitude towards climate change. The Rockefeller family - which started ExxonMobil's predecessor, Standard Oil - are taking the unprecedented step of holding a press conference today at a hotel in New York where they will call for Rex Tillerson to hand over part of his responsibilities as both chairman and chief executive.

The over-centralised power structure is seen by the Rockefellers as a core problem at ExxonMobil and they are launching four motions at the forthcoming annual general meeting to put their message across.

"A majority of the family is now so concerned about the direction of ExxonMobil Corporation that it is urging a major change in corporate governance in the form of an independent chairman of the board and a bigger leadership role for the oil company's board of directors," said the family in an announcement.

"More than a dozen Rockefeller family members have sponsored four proxy resolutions this year, raising a range of concerns about how the management of ExxonMobil under Rex Tillerson is failing to address the future of energy and related industry hurdles," the statement added. There has been no specific reference to climate change but family members such as Neva Rockefeller Goodwin, an economist and great-granddaughter of John D Rockefeller who will address the meeting tomorrow, are known to be concerned about ExxonMobil's policy on climate change. She has supported another motion to be heard at the company's AGM on May 28 on that issue while Jay Rockefeller, Democratic senator from West Virginia, has also questioned the company's attitude towards the environment in the past.

Tony Juniper, executive director of Friends of the Earth, welcomed Rockefeller's initiative but added: "No one should see this as a purely ethical challenge. The core of the business needs to be modified towards low-carbon technologies as soon as possible if ExxonMobil is to survive the challenges of the future."

Source: The Guardian|by Terry Macalister

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