May 14, 2015 / 9:27 PM / 2 years ago

Apache shareholders approve proxy access proposal

HOUSTON, May 14 (Reuters) - Apache Corp shareholders approved on Thursday a proposal to allow minority shareholders to nominate directors to the board of the company, a leading U.S. shale oil producer.

Apache’s board had recommended investors back the measure, unlike boards at some other companies that have resisted a push being led by public pension funds to give shareholders a choice about the election of directors.

The proposal, which allows an investor who has owned three or more percent of the company’s stock for three years to nominate directors, was put forth by New York City Comptroller Scott Stringer, who oversees the city’s pension funds.

Apache was one of about 75 companies to receive Stringer’s proposal on proxy access.

The proposal was approved by 85 percent of Apache shares present and voting, or about 77 percent of shares outstanding.

The board’s support for the proposal put Apache at the “progressive” end of corporate responses to Stringer’s campaign, Sarah Teslik, the company’s head of governance, said after the annual meeting.

Chief Executive John Christmann, leading his first annual meeting, said the company has moved quickly to drive down costs and slashed spending since U.S. crude prices started a 60 percent slide in June from more than $100 a barrel.

“All exploration and production companies hope for the best. Very few last 60 years,” he said of Apache’s six-decade history.

With oil prices having recovered more than 30 percent since mid-March to around $60 a barrel, some companies are being asked if they will start adding to rig fleets they cut just weeks ago.

Christmann has made it clear that prices will need to stabilize at current or higher levels before activity ramps back up.

“Future changes in activity will be cashflow driven,” a slide in his presentation said.

Apache, which drills in Texas as well as in the Egyptian desert and the North Sea, last week reported a first-quarter loss that included a nearly $5 billion write down. Excluding that, its loss of 37 cents per share was less than expected.

It said oil and gas output fell 6 percent from a year earlier to 601,000 barrels oil equivalent per day. (Reporting By Terry Wade; Editing by Alan Crosby)

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