The Church Of England Demands Change

Sign up for smart news, insights, and analysis on the biggest financial stories of the day.

For the religious among us, the church can offer guidance on matters spiritual and interpersonal.

The Church Of England is taking on a different type of role at ExxonMobil: activist investor à la Gordon Gekko.

Talk about divine intervention.

Active Management

The Church Commissioner manages a £8.3bn investment fund on behalf of the Church Of England. Its mandate is to earn a 5% return on capital and invest in an ethical and responsible way.

But the commissioners are beginning to question their devotion to Exxon and have joined fellow activist investors in pushing the firm toward greener investments.

Bess Joffe, the head of responsible investment for the church fund, said action was “urgently needed for the company to improve its ability to create long-term sustainable value and pivot its strategy to support the energy transition.”

And the church is not alone:

  • An emerging activist investor called “Fire Engine No. 1,” which owns $40 million of Exxon stock, has called for an overhaul of the company’s strategy and a slate of new board members.
  • Yesterday famed hedge fund DE Shaw announced a sizable stake in the oil giant and is pushing for cost cuts.

Low On Fuel

Despite the brewing shareholder pressure and the constant threat of climate catastrophe, Exxon has remained wedded in holy matrimony to its fossil fuel roots.

Competitor BP recently published a report saying oil demand would fall by half in the coming three decades. For its part, it said it would reduce fossil fuel output by 40 per cent by 2030.

Exxon, sees it differently. The company intends to increase its fossil fuel output by a third over the next four years and believes oil will remain a pillar of the world’s economy for decades to come.

The Takeaway

For now Exxon is still in a rough patch. “Once the largest company by market cap in the world, Exxon is expected to report its third consecutive quarterly loss today.