Exxon shareholders support CEO's $25.2M pay

ExxonMobil President and CEO Rex Tillerson speaks during the 2011 Washington Ideas Forum at the Newseum on October 6, 2011 in Washington, DC. JIM WATSON/AFP/Getty Images

(AP) DALLAS - Exxon Mobil Corp.'s (XOM) CEO had a good year in 2011 - he got compensation valued at $25.2 million. Shareholders had a good year too, and on Wednesday gave their approval to the oil giant's executive pay program.

Investors at Exxon's annual meeting cast about 78 percent of their shares in favor of the compensation-setting system, ignoring critics who said executive pay was too high.

Shareholders also voted against resolutions that were critical of a natural gas drilling technique that critics call fracking and of the company's efforts on reducing greenhouse gas emissions. Similar resolutions have been defeated at previous Exxon meetings.

Chairman and CEO Rex W. Tillerson's combination of salary, stock awards and other compensation made him the 16th-highest paid executive among publicly traded U.S. companies last year.

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Rising oil prices helped boost Exxon's net income by 35 percent to $41 billion in 2011, the company's best year since 2008. The stock rose 16 percent.

Shareholder consultant ISS Proxy Advisory Services recommended that investors vote against Exxon's executive compensation, which it called excessive. ISS said Exxon failed to tie CEO pay to specific financial measurements or goals, "resulting in higher than justified rewards."

Another shareholder-advisory firm, Glass, Lewis & Co., said Exxon paid top officers more than many other large companies and allowed the board too much discretion in setting compensation. That "has left shareholders in the dark, unable to see a direct link between pay and performance."

Still, Glass Lewis said Exxon's pay policies have improved slightly, and it recommended voting for the company's executive compensation.

Exxon shares were down $1.79, or 2.2 percent, to $80.14 in afternoon trading as both equity markets and the price of oil slumped.

Exxon shares have fallen 2 percent in the past year, roughly in line with major indexes. Over 10 years, the shares have risen 108 percent, about four times as much as the Dow Jones industrial average and the S&P 500 index.

Irving-based Exxon might have performed better in the past year, but its $29 billion purchase of natural gas producer XTO Energy in 2010 hasn't produced the hoped-for boost because of falling gas prices.

U.S. gas supplies have ballooned since the acquisition. Tillerson said Exxon knew there could be an oversupply of gas because of hydraulic fracturing or fracking, which has boosted production. But, he said, the company didn't expect the U.S. economy to remain so weak for so long, which has also undermined gas prices.

"There's no regrets," he said of the XTO deal.

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