Anti-ESG Activist Investor Urges Chevron to Increase Oil Production
Vivek Ramaswamy is bringing ESG battle to oil patch by calling on Chevron to slow spending on its energy-transition plan
By Amrith Ramkumar, Sept. 6, 2022
A conservative activist turned investor who has criticized Wall Street’s efforts to address climate change and other issues is publicly urging Chevron Corp. CVX -0.97%▼ to pump more fossil fuels over the next decade.
Vivek Ramaswamy, who launched an energy-focused exchange-traded fund nearly a month ago, is among the most prominent critics of so-called environmental, social and governance—or ESG—investing. He quickly turned his sights on Chevron, arguing the country’s second-biggest fossil-fuel company should slow spending on its energy-transition plan, which he said was partially motivated by pressure from top shareholders such as BlackRock Inc. BLK 2.05%▲
In the letter Tuesday to Chevron CEO Mike Wirth and the company’s board, Mr. Ramaswamy said he wanted to “liberate you from constraints imposed on Chevron by its ESG-promoting ‘shareholders.’ ” Mr. Ramaswamy writes that he looks forward to engaging with the company before next year’s proxy voting season. The Wall Street Journal previously reported on the letter.
Chevron didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment.
The author of “Woke, Inc.”, a book arguing businesses shouldn’t be affected by politics, Mr. Ramaswamy invested in Chevron through his Strive Asset Management’s ETF nearly a month ago. The ETF tracks an index of energy stocks. Strive, which counts investor Bill Ackman and tech executive Peter Thiel among its backers, is part of a pushback by conservatives against ESG investing. The fund has hit about $315 million in assets, a strong start for a new offering.
The Chevron effort is a response to last year’s proxy victory by hedge fund Engine No. 1 at Chevron rival Exxon Mobil Corp. that forced Exxon to accelerate energy-transition efforts. Strive’s letter calls for energy producers to dump their current strategy of limiting investments and returning cash to shareholders. It is one of the first formal calls for an oil giant to do so.