Corporation Votes to Abstain, Ignores Suggestions of ACSR
The Corporation yesterday voted to abstain on a Mobil Corporation shareholder resolution that would require Mobil to halt sales to the military and police in South Africa though the Advisory Committee on Shareholder Responsibility (ACSR) recommended unanimously last week that the Corporation approve the resolution.
And More Abstentions
The Corporation also decided to abstain on resolutions at the Exxon Corporation and the Atlantic Richfield Company that request an end to these companies' expansion in Chile. The ACSR had given favorable--but only by a plurality--recommendations on these two motions.
A resolution at Dow Chemical Company--to establish a review committee and conduct a detailed study concerning the company's production of two herbicides, "Silvex" and "2,4,5,-T," a chemical linked to the disputed Agent Orange--also received a Corporation abstention.
At Mobil, in which the Corporation controls approximately $50-million worth of stock, the Corporation abstained on an identical resolution last year.
And More Explanations
The Corporation's official explanation of its decisions yesterday states that the members of the Corporation's Committee on Shareholder Responsibility--to which the ACSR reports--"agree with the ACSR with respect to the major point" of the resolution.
The proposal, submitted by nine stockholding church groups, maintains that Mobil Oil Southern Africa (MOSA), Mobil's wholly-owned subsidiary, ignores the principles underlying current U.S. Commerce Department regulations prohibiting sales by American corporations to the South African military and police.
The blanket prohibition on MOSA's sales dictated by the resolution is impossible to monitor, Hagh Calkins '45, Corporation member, said yesterday, adding, "The general theory of the resolution is good, but the terms of it are not so good."
"If the resolution is trying to stop MOSA from making long-term bulk contracts it would be more practical to say exactly that, and not, in effect, 'you ought to go police every one of your filling stations,'" Calkins said yesterday.
Kenneth Propp, 'a second-year Law School student and ACSR representative, said last night, after hearning the Corporation's statement, "They have failed to supply any appropriate reason for differing with the ACSR. The abstention is inexplicable."
Last year's version of the resolution received just over 3-per-cent approval at Mobil's annual meeting, which enabled it to be autornatically reconsidered this year.
The Corporation will draft a letter in June to Mobil's board of directors explaning yesterday's vote, Lawrence F. Stevens '65, secretary to the ACSR and assistant general counsel to the University, said yesterday.
Mobil has officially opposed the resolution in its proxy statement, mailed to shareholders last month, maintaining that it would not be acting as, a "responsible citizen" in South Africa if it refused to comply with the military and police there. The statement adds, "The great bulk of the work of both the police and military in South Africa is for the benefit of all of its inhabitants.
The Harvard Corporation officially states it will communicate its concern "that the South African security forces play a somewhat different role in South African society than that which is suggested by [Mobil]."
Eric W. Ascherman '81, a member of the Southern Africa Solidarity Committee, said he believes the Corporation's abstention "has managed to avoid taking any kind of serious stand" on the South Africa issue.
Mobill's shareholders will discuss and vote on the resolution at the company's annual meeting Thursday.
In addressing the shareholder resolutions at Exxon and ARCO the Corporation states that, in view of the ACSR's vote--five for, one against and four abstaining--"We have decided to abstain on this issue in order to give the ACSR an opportunity to continue its deliberations on this subject.