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    ExxonMobil Shareholders Dodge Protesters

    Crowd of nearly 100 protests personnel decisions, global warming.

    DALLAS -- Exxon Mobil Corp. shareholders gathering for their annual meeting yesterday were forced to dodge demonstrators protesting the oil giant's environmental and personnel policies. Irving-based ExxonMobil earned $15.3 billion last year amid falling oil and gas prices, a decline from 2000. Chairman Lee R. Raymond said the results were due to disciplined spending and an emphasis on technology.

    In prepared remarks he said the company would be "staying the course" rather than making changes in its business, according to the Dallas Morning News. Outside, demonstrators protested ExxonMobil's position denying a link exists between the burning of fossil fuel and global warming. Protesters also urged the company to approve benefits for domestic partners of gay employees.

    Shareholders were to consider both issues, but have rejected similar proposals in the past.

    The company said Tuesday that shareholder proposals on equal employment opportunities and renewable fuels are garnering almost 25 percent support in mail-in votes ahead of the company's annual meeting yesterday. The proposals are backed by influential Institutional Shareholder Services (ISS) for the first time this year. ISS sided with the board against the proposals in 2000 and 2001, when they were defeated.

    ISS also has recommended that voters support a proposal that would require the company to run any plans for a "poison pill" past shareholders. A poison pill is a type of takeover defense that typically gives shareholders the right to buy new stock at a discount. The proposal is on the proxy for the first time this year, the company said. It didn't say how the vote was running.

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