Shareholder support for Exxon executive pay erodes

DALLAS Wed May 29, 2013 1:11pm EDT

DALLAS May 29 (Reuters) - Fewer shareholders of Exxon Mobil Corp on Wednesday cast votes in favor of the oil company's executive compensation following a year when Chief Executive Officer Rex Tillerson's total pay climbed 15 percent to about $40 million.

Proxy advisory firm ISS had recommended that shareholders withhold support for CEO Tillerson's compensation, citing Exxon's "modest" shareholder returns and the company's reliance on awards that have less emphasis on performance.

This year at the company's annual meeting, 71 percent of Exxon's shareholders cast a non binding vote supporting the compensation of the company's named executives, compared with 78 percent last year. The average support for so-called say-on-pay results was 91 percent in 2012, according to ISS.

Tillerson told reporters after the meeting that the decline in support for his pay "wasn't a significant move" and meant that 70 percent of Exxon's shareholders were happy with the company's compensation practices.

Exxon's total shareholder return - or capital gains plus dividends - for the year ended 2012 was about 5 percent, compared with 16 percent for the Standard & Poor's 500, according to ISS.

Exxon contends that ISS's model inappropriately emphasizes short-term stock performance and disregards the long-term investing cycles for an oil company like Exxon.

In 2012, Tillerson's total compensation as calculated by the proxy firm rose 15 percent to $40 million.

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