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Strive Asset Management revealed a plan Tuesday to spurn risks presented to the shareholders of ExxonMobil, Chevron, and Home Depot by the environmental, social, and governance movement, also known as ESG.
The series of actions, first shared with The Daily Wire, will be executed next year to prevent the companies from “prioritizing ESG over excellence,” according to a press release from Strive, which believes that its “greatest opportunity to influence positive outcomes for shareholders” through resolutions exists at the three firms.
Strive Executive Chairman Vivek Ramaswamy sent a letter to ExxonMobil CEO Darren Woods last month suggesting the addition of a “suitable director to your board ahead of preparations for next spring’s proxy voting season.” After a meeting between Ramaswamy and Woods, ExxonMobil appointed two new board directors.
Exxon enacted a shareholder resolution in January committing the oil company to pursue net zero emissions by the year 2050. Last year, a small ESG activist investment firm controlling 0.02% of shares in ExxonMobil won three board seats with the help of asset managers BlackRock, Vanguard, and State Street.
“While climate change is one of many factors that may influence decision-making at Exxon, we are concerned that singularly focusing on this risk factor at the expense of other considerations creates new long-run risks,” Ramaswamy wrote to Woods, “including the very real risk of underinvesting in fossil fuels to match global demand.”
With respect to Chevron, Strive will introduce a proposal that would reverse Scope 3 emissions reduction benchmarks enacted last year via shareholder resolution. The benchmarks, which were supported by BlackRock, Vanguard, and State Street, would require the company to reduce fossil fuel usage among entities in the Chevron value chain.
Strive also co-authored a shareholder resolution for Home Depot that would undo an earlier proposal supported by BlackRock and Capital Group to conduct a “racial equity audit.” Strive contends that all hiring at the home improvement retailer “should be based exclusively on merit, without regard to social considerations which may raise legal liabilities for the company.”
The fund will launch proxy campaigns or additional shareholder resolutions in the spring if the latter two proposals do not “effectuate positive change.”
Strive was launched earlier this year with the intention of pushing portfolio companies to maximize profits instead of advancing social and political causes favored by executives. PayPal co-founder Peter Thiel and Pershing Square Capital Management Chief Executive Bill Ackman were among the company’s first financial backers.
Critics of the ESG movement say that proponents blend activism with profitability in a manner that harms shareholders through lower returns. Though there are a considerable number of investors who support executives using financial power to achieve certain social objectives, a clear majority of investors would prefer political neutrality and the sole maximization of profits, according to an exclusive poll from The Daily Wire released earlier this year.
Ramaswamy, a former biopharmaceutical entrepreneur, has repeatedly criticized BlackRock and other rival asset managers for compelling portfolio companies into adopting left-wing agendas unrelated or antithetical to their bottom lines. The founding of Strive occurred as multiple conservative-leaning states began implementing measures to divest from BlackRock, Vanguard, and State Street.