Activist Wins Exxon Board Seats After Questioning Oil Giant’s Climate Strategy

An activist investor’s successful campaign to win seats on the board of Exxon Mobil Corp. represents a historic defeat for the oil giant, one that will likely force it to more directly confront growing shareholder concerns about climate change.

Exxon said Wednesday a preliminary vote count showed shareholders backed two nominees of Engine No. 1, an upstart hedge fund owning a tiny fraction of the oil giant’s stock. The final vote wasn’t tallied as of late Wednesday afternoon, and the final composition of the board was unclear.

Exxon Chief Executive Darren Woods was also re-elected to the board along with seven of Exxon’s candidates, while the vote was too close to call for five nominees, the company said.

The vote culminated one of the most expensive proxy fights ever. It was an enormous blow to Mr. Woods, who personally campaigned against Engine No. 1.

“We welcome all of our new directors and look forward to working with them constructively,” Mr. Woods said in a statement.

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