Woodside Energy Group Ltd's WDS.AX shareholders on Friday supported its management pay report and re-election of directors despite a strong push by activist groups and some smaller investors upset over its climate report to reject the plans.
The pressure comes at a time when Australia's biggest independent oil and gas producer is clocking record profits boosted by a surge in output after its purchase of BHP Group Ltd's petroleum business and pouring billions into its growth projects.
The management pay report was approved by more that 79% of the shareholders while about 21% voted against it, according to provisional results released during its annual general meeting.
Under Australian rules, a remuneration report will not be adopted if it is rejected by more than a quarter of shareholders.
Three of the directors on Woodside's sustainability committee - former Australian resources minister Ian Macfarlane, former Shell Singapore chairperson Swee Chen Goh, and former ConocoPhillips senior executive Larry Archibald were re-elected.
They had been particular targets of activists and proxy advisers seeking to protest against the company's climate report. Nearly 35% of the shareholders voted against re-electing Macfarlane, but over 50% is required for a director to be voted out.
No director on any ASX100 energy company's board has had a vote greater than 15% against them in the last decade, according to the Australasian Centre for Corporate Responsibility (ACCR), an activist group critical of Woodside's climate goals.
"One of the very clear reasons for today's record-breaking result is that Woodside's board has repeatedly failed to present a credible climate strategy and investors have had enough," said ACCR lead carbon analyst Alex Hillman, who had previously spent five years at Woodside as a climate change adviser.
Until today, only one Woodside director over the last decade had ever received less than 95% support, he added. Woodside did not respond immediately to a request for comment.
Some investors had wanted Woodside to publish a comprehensive climate strategy after its 2022 plan released in February closely resembled its 2021 plan. Woodside has said it intends to put its climate report to a non-binding, advisory vote at its annual meeting in 2024.
(Reuters - Reporting by Harish Sridharan and Lewis Jackson; Additional Reporting by Sameer Manekar; Editing by Muralikumar Anantharaman and Jamie Freed)
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