EXCLUSIVE Engine No. 1 Partner Leaves Hedge Fund After Successful Exxon Challenge


BOSTON, Nov. 15 (Reuters) – Charlie Penner, head of No.1 Engine Active Engagement, who designed and successfully led the Exxon Mobil Corp (XOM.N) board challenge this year, that stunned the corporate world, is leaving the sustainability-focused fund cover.

Penner, an Engine No. 1 partner, informed the company he was resigning, the company said, confirming a Reuters report based on information from two sources familiar with the decision. He plans to continue leading activist campaigns while collaborating with other major investors.

“We appreciate the extremely valuable work Charlie has done on the No.1 engine, especially the Exxon campaign, and we wish him well in his future endeavors,” a spokesperson for the No.1 engine said in a statement. communicated.

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The No.1 engine, which had just $ 250 million in assets when it opened less than a year ago, caused a stir in May when shareholders elected three of the four directors the hedge fund has. appointed to the board of directors of the American oil company.

The hedge fund made an initial investment of $ 40 million and argued that Exxon, which is now valued at $ 270 billion, needed new blood given its poor financial performance and lack of a comprehensive plan to combat climate change. read more He spent $ 12.5 million on the campaign. Read more

Penner joined Engine No. 1 in October 2020 as a partner and brought the idea of ​​fighting Exxon to the fund.

He led the campaign with a team, screening candidate directors, speaking with Exxon’s board of directors, and pitching the hedge fund case to major Exxon shareholders including Vanguard, BlackRock and State Street.

He joined the new firm, founded by Chris James, after 15 years with Barry Rosenstein’s activist firm, Jana Partners.

Other No.1 engine investments include Microsoft (MSFT.O), General Motors (GM.N) and Square Inc (SQ.N). In June, the company launched an exchange-traded fund, betting Main Street investors want portfolios to support environmental, social and governance (ESG) proposals in the wake of its victory over Exxon.

Penner has worked on activist campaigns for over a decade and is credited with launching the very first ESG-focused activist campaign in 2018. Jana Partners pushed Apple to take action to tackle growing youth addiction to his iPhones. The California State Teachers Retirement System (CalSTRS) pension fund has supported the Apple and Exxon campaigns.

In 2019, Penner privately lobbied McDonald’s Corp (MCD.N), also while cooperating with CalSTRS, to sell plant-based burgers to help deal with declining customer traffic, according to reports. people familiar with the matter.

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Report by Svea Herbst-Bayliss in Boston; Editing by David Gregorio

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