- The Washington Times - Wednesday, May 31, 2006

DALLAS (AP) — Shareholders of Exxon Mobil Corp., whose last chief executive took home $147 million when he retired, overwhelmingly rejected resolutions to rein in compensation at the oil company’s annual meeting yesterday.

However, Chairman and Chief Executive Officer Rex W. Tillerson said some shareholders had sent a signal by withholding votes for board members who approved former CEO Lee R. Raymond’s widely publicized pay-and-stock package.

“We all recognize that there has been a lot of controversy and comment around compensation,” said Mr. Tillerson, who took over in January after Mr. Raymond retired. “Probably most likely what we were seeing is some people voting their disapproval of how that was handled.”

In comments after his first shareholder meeting as CEO, Mr. Tillerson said it’s up to Exxon Mobil directors to prevent him from getting a Raymond-like package in a few years. He hasn’t asked them to limit his compensation, but “they know how to reach me,” he said.

Mr. Tillerson also said the company was sensitive to motorists’ complaints about high gasoline prices, but can’t do anything about the situation. He said that Exxon Mobil would keep searching for oil, but that it would take several years for supply and demand to even out.

The company maintains its disdain for alternative fuels, saying many won’t be viable for decades. He said recently that he doesn’t expect alternative fuels to replace oil in the next 30 years.

“We are not going to invest in lower-return products,” he said.

Like past Exxon Mobil meetings, the event yesterday attracted environmental protesters, who accuse the company of funding groups that question the link between global warming and the burning of hydrocarbons such as oil and coal.

Most of the 13 shareholder resolutions — all opposed by the board — dealt with corporate-governance issues, including three on executive and director compensation. None of the three got more than 12.9 percent support, according to the company.

Some institutional investors spoke out during the meeting about Mr. Raymond’s compensation. The North Carolina treasurer had indicated this week that his state’s pension fund would withhold votes from five directors who have served on the company’s compensation committee in protest of Mr. Raymond’s package.

Four members of the committee received 79 percent to 82 percent of the shares cast, and the other eight directors were re-elected with margins in the mid-90s, a spokesman said.

A resolution to require that directors get a majority vote to be elected passed with 52 percent support. Longtime company officials couldn’t remember shareholders previously approving a measure over the board’s opposition.

Exxon Mobil, the world’s largest publicly traded oil company, earned a record $36 billion last year.

Outside the venue of the meeting, about 50 demonstrators from a group called Exxpose Exxon donned oil drums and chanted slogans such as “Human need, not corporate greed.” Two dozen police officers monitored the group, and a police helicopter hovered above.

Most shareholders entered from an underground parking garage and never saw the protesters.

“We’re asking Exxon Mobil to start investing in clean, alternative, renewable energy, like its competitors do,” said the director of Washington-based Exxpose Exxon, Shawnee Hoover.

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