(Reuters) – BlackRock Inc (NYSE:BLK), the world’s biggest asset manager, has voted for three of hedge fund Engine No. 1’s four candidates to join Exxon Mobil Corp (NYSE:XOM)’s board, in a blow to the energy giant, people familiar with the matter said on Tuesday.
BlackRock is Exxon’s third largest shareholder with a roughly 6% stake. Its support of the board challenge comes as Exxon tries to convince its top shareholders, including Vanguard and State Street (NYSE:STT), to back its directors.
Engine No. 1 has criticized Exxon for not moving fast enough to reduce its carbon footprint. Its traction with BlackRock underscores the emphasis that investors increasingly place on environmental, social and corporate governance (ESG). Engine No. 1’s stake in Exxon, a company with a market capitalization of about $250 billion, is worth just $50 million.
Exxon’s annual shareholder meeting takes place on Wednesday, and the sources cautioned that shareholders are allowed to change their votes until then. The sources requested anonymity because BlackRock does not publicly disclose how it casts its vote ahead of time.
BlackRock and Exxon did not immediately respond to requests for comment.