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Exxon Activist Victory Marks Coming of Age for ESG Investing

June 9, 2021, 9:09 PM

Chris James pulled off a feat that for years had eluded the Rockefeller family, giant pension funds, and money managers. In just six months—and after staking his own money—James’s tiny investment startup, Engine No. 1, won a victory over one of America’s most iconic companies. Its acrimonious six-month proxy battle against Exxon Mobil Corp., centered on its flagging performance and resistance to preparing for a low-carbon future, resulted in three dissident directors being elected to the company’s 12-member board.

The victory not only stunned the oil world and corporate America at large, but it also marked a coming of ...

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