Several energy companies have come under the heavy scrutiny of activist investors over the past few months for a wide swath of reasons. However, one common trend does exist among their demands: the activist firms want seats on the boards of directors.
The most recent firms to experience this kind of pressure have been Hess (NYSE:HES) and Transocean (NYSE:RIG). Each company has been forced to defend the roles its individual chairmen have played in the firms' current progress, or lack thereof in this case.
What's the latest scoop?
In Hess' case, it involves the son of the company's founder, John Hess. Hess has held the role of chairman for the past 18 years but has decided to step down on his own terms rather than leaving his fate up to a shareholder vote. A similar outcome is transpiring at Transocean after the announcement that chairman Michael Talbert will be removing himself from the post before the end of the year.
Still work to be done
While both of these issues appear to have worked themselves out, questions still remain that shareholders want to pay very close attention to. Elliott Management has reportedly tied outperformance-related bonuses to its board member nominee deals, which appears a bit shortsighted.
As for Transocean investors, Carl Icahn is not yet finished, seeing as how he is seeking a $4 per year dividend versus the company's proposed $2.24. Management believes $4 per share would remove room for dividend growth and severely undercut the company's financial flexibility.