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Exxon Reportedly Mulls Changes in Response to Activist Investors

Exxon Mobil, responding to activist investors, is considering adding one or more directors and increasing environmental investments, a media report says.
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ExxonMobil  (XOM) - Get Exxon Mobil Corporation Report, pressured by two activist investors, is considering making changes to the board and other matters, a media report says.

People familiar with the matter told The Wall Street Journal that the Irving, Texas, oil titan is mulling an addition of one or more directors to the board, an increase in environmental investments and a decrease in capital spending.

Exxon is discussing things with one of the investors, D.E. Shaw Group, and Shaw may back the policies, some of the sources said.

At the same time, the other investor, Engine No. 1, said Wednesday that it’s proceeding with a proxy attempt for four board seats.

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ExxonMobil’s board "needs new members who have proven success positioning energy companies for today as well as tomorrow, and who are sufficiently independent from the current board to ensure a clean break from a strategy and mindset that have led to years of value destruction and poorly positioned the company for the future,” the San Francisco investment firm said in a statement.

“While recently ExxonMobil has taken incremental steps in the face of financial and shareholder pressure, we believe a reactive short-term approach is no substitute for a proactive long-term strategy that addresses the threats and opportunities facing the company in a changing world.”

In response, Exxon said, “ExxonMobil has engaged with Engine No. 1 since mid-December. The company’s board affairs committee will evaluate Engine No. 1’s notice of nomination and nominees in line with the corporation’s bylaws.”

Exxon shares recently traded at $46.50, up 1.4%. They have fallen 30% over the past year thanks to a decline in oil prices and weakened financial performance.