Thursday, May 01, 2008

Rockefellers and ExxonMobil

Big oil companies are used to operating within explicit laws to maximize profits. Many have been actively and aggressively opposed to taking voluntary steps to address public concerns about energy and the environment. There is at present no legislation in the U.S. requiring these companies to alter their course, and with de facto control of the White House, big oil has had a field day unprecedented since the era of the robber barons.

ExxonMobil is the most profitable of the major integrated energy companies. The Irving, Texas, company has been highly notable for its climate change and global warming denial. In addition, while other Big Oil companies have lent credence to the idea that global oil reserves are dwindling, ExxonMobil executives claim the world has ample hydrocarbon reserves, and supplies are constricted due to a lack of access to those reserves.

Comes now some descendants of John D. Rockefeller - the archetypal robber baron himself - with a different perspective from ExxonMobil management. Rockefeller founded Standard Oil, which was later declared a trust and broken up early in the 20th century. ExxonMobil, the world's largest company by market capitalization, was built on some of Standard Oil's assets.
Members of the Rockefeller family (Peter O'Neill and Neeva Rockefeller Goodwin pictured) are pressuring Exxon Mobil to focus more on renewable energy.

The family of John D. Rockefeller, who's Standard Oil Trust ultimately spawned Exxon Mobil, say they have spent years behind the scenes prodding the company to change its approach.

Family representatives say their stake in Exxon represents a significant holding, but the company's top shareholders are mutual funds and other institutional investors.

Exxon Mobil says the company has met with members of the Rockefeller family several times and "respects the rights of all shareholders to make their views known."

"They are fighting the last war and they're not seeing they're facing a new war," said Peter O'Neill, who heads the Rockefeller Family committee dealing with Exxon Mobil and is the great-great-grandson of John D. Rockefeller. The family members, who say they are the oil giant's longest continuous shareholders, say Exxon is too focused on short-term gains from sky-high oil prices. They also argue splitting the roles of chairman and CEO will help the company be more flexible in the future.
Mutual funds and other institutional investors, not individuals, are the company's top shareholders. Which points out a key dilemma confronting even this immensely wealthy and influential family in its effort to provoke change. As I've previously indicated, the most dangerous political and economic influence in contemporary life is the convergent power of corporatism manifested through a warsocialist state. Nowhere is this more clearly evident than in the limitations of Exxon's largest private shareholders to influence the management and operations of the world's largest oil company because the real majority owners (80% ownership) of ExxonMobil stock are mutual funds and institutional investors. So, absent laws and other controls, the management of ExxonMobil is pretty much at liberty to flaut the wishes of the Rockefellers - and - aided and abetted by a big oil mandate still occupying the White House......, see how this works?


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