Commodities & Metals

Who Actually Owns America's Biggest Oil Company?

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When it comes to companies and organizations that have shaped the course of history behind the scenes, oil companies sit toward the top of the list. Few companies have as big an impact on our day-to-day life as oil companies. The price of our food, the supply of gas at the pump, and many more things are impacted by the success, or the whims, of oil companies. But like every public company, oil companies are owned by shareholders. It is these institutions or people that truly control a significant portion of our lives. So, who actually owns America’s biggest oil company? Who are the companies or people that ultimately should be held responsible for ExxonMobil’s actions and accidents?

What is America’s Biggest Oil Company?

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One of the offices of ExxonMobil, which operates in hundreds of companies around the world.

The biggest oil company in America is ExxonMobil (NYSE: XOM). As the largest descendant of John Rockefeller’s Standard Oil, not only is ExxonMobil the largest oil company in America, it is among the most powerful companies in the world. Exxon was founded 141 years ago in 1882 before being split from Standard Oil in 1911 by the U.S. Supreme Court. In 1999, Exxon merged with Mobil to create the current company.

Ever since the merger in 1999, ExxonMobil has remained in the top ten companies when ranked by revenue. It often holds the top spot. As of the beginning of 2023, it ranked third of all companies by revenue. It is the largest investor-owned oil company in the world. ExxonMobil is the second largest oil refining entity in the world, just falling behind Sinopec, a Chinese oil and gas company.

ExxonMobil has faced severe criticism almost since its very beginning. It has funded and supported organizations that deny climate change. Specifically, ExxonMobil has maintained that that burning fossil fuels does not contribute to global warming, and has funded and influenced government reports that say the same. It is responsible for many oil spills, including the crash of the Exxon Valdez which is one of the worst oil spills in history. It has faced numerous accusations that it commits human rights abuses and violates human rights laws, has influenced American foreign policy in the interest of its profits, and has infiltrated and manipulated other countries to access oil reserves or supply lines.

Who are the Actual Owners of ExxonMobil?

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As a public company, there are thousands of people invested in ExxonMobil, but the largest are all other companies.

For this list, we have included the largest owners of ExxonMobil stock as of 2023. Today, institutional shareholders own around 58.73% of ExxonMobil shares, retail investors own around 40.42%, and ExxonMobil insiders own around .85%. We list only the largest six shareholders, which are all institutions, that own more than 1.5% of ExxonMobil shares.

Vanguard Group Inc.

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Vanguard owns or controls trillions of Dollars in hundreds of countries.
  • Shares owned: 387,273,901
  • Percent ownership: 9.77%

Vanguard is a private investment management company that owns over $7.7 trillion in assets around the world. It is the largest provider of mutual funds in the world and is one of only a handful of index funds that hold significant sway in the U.S. economy. The founder of Vanguard, John Bogle, was the inventor of the original public index fund and this became the primary source of Vanguard’s success for many years.

Vanguard is the world’s largest coal investor, with $86 billion invested in the industry. It also controls over $2.6 billion of debt and $ 9.6 billion of equities in various companies that are actively mining or destroying the Amazon rainforest.

BlackRock Inc.

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BlackRock’s office in San Francisco, California.
  • Shares owned: 267,498,723
  • Percent ownership: 6.75%

BlackRock (NYSE: BLK) is the largest asset manager in the world with over $9.42 trillion in assets as of June 2023. BlackRock has offices in more than 30 countries and does business with clients in at least 100 countries. Despite its size, BlackRock is only the 184th largest company by revenue within the United States.

BlackRock has come under intense criticism for the companies and organizations it chooses to support and fund. This history includes investing in arms manufacturers and defense contractors, the Chinese People’s Liberation Army (along with numerous human rights violations and abuses in China), the Israeli military, and many others. Many public figures have accused the company of supporting companies that contribute to (and actively deny) climate change, gun violence, and harm against the LGBT community.

BlackRock has been called the world’s biggest shadow bank. U.S. representatives have attempted to pass laws to restrict and restrain BlackRock in what business it can conduct. BlackRock is the largest owner is several of the largest and most powerful companies in the world. Even though BlackRock invests money on its clients’ behalf, and maintains that it is its clients that actually own these companies, it is able to influence their ownership and the power of their clients to influence these companies and foreign organizations.

State Street Corporation

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The Wall Street Bull, where the Fearless Girl statue was installed as a marketing gimmick by State Street.

Shares owned: 208,405,966

Percent ownership: 5.26%

State Street (NYSE: STT) is one of the world’s largest asset management companies with over $3.7 trillion in assets and further control over $40 trillion as of 2023. It is the 14th-largest bank in the United States and the second-oldest bank still operating in the country. It is the largest custodian bank in the world.

State Street has faced numerous fines and lawsuits because of the way it has conducted business. This includes fraud, lying to shareholders, and not disclosing important financials like their significant short positions or agent commissions.

State Street was the company that commissioned the now-famous Fearless Girl statue in front of the Wall Street Bull. They did this to advertise an index fund that prioritized women-owned businesses. State Street did this even as they underpaid their own female and black leadership. The company ended up paying $5 million to settle a lawsuit around this underpayment.

FMR LLC

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Activist Ken Archer promotes the organization’s “Divest For Darfur” in front of Fidelity offices.

Shares owned: 145,199,301

Percent ownership: 3.66%

FMR is a private company that does business as Fidelity Investments. It is another of the world’s largest investment management companies with $4.3 trillion in assets and over $10 trillion under its control.

Most of Fidelity’s controversies and legal issues have come as a result of altering and destroying official documents and intentionally misrepresenting their financials.

Geode Capital Management LLC

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Geode is among the major global companies you’ve never heard of that controls trillions of dollars in assets

Shares owned: 74,794,361

Percent ownership: 1.89%

Geode was originally created by Fidelity Investments in 2001, but eventually separated to become its own investment management firm in 2003. Geode’s practice of shorting stocks that Fidelity owned was bad for business, so the two parted ways. Today, Geode owns over $1 trillion in assets.

Geode primarily acts as a manager to larger funds, including index funds sponsored by Fidelity and other larger firms.

Bank of America Corporation

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Bank of America’s sign in Time’s Square.

Shares owned: 59,843,933

Percent ownership: 1.51%

The Bank of American Corporation (NYSE: BAC), probably the most recognizable of all companies on this list, is the second largest bank in the United States, the 13th largest company in the world, and the world’s largest bank.

Bank of America has a long and deep history of controversy, scandal, and lawsuits. It has been sued over alleged massive fraud, discrimination of African-American and Hispanic homebuyers, sexual harassment and discrimination, corruption, and lying to regulators and lawmakers. These events have led to numerous settlements of hundreds of millions of dollars. In 2023, the CFPB announced that it had fined Bank of America $250 million over creating fake accounts, charging junk fees to customers, and withholding rewards that were owed to customers.

The list of owners of ExxonMobil is long. All the top owners are companies, and it could be argued that the people who invest in these companies that own Exxon stock are the actual owners. But in reality, it is these companies that dictate the direction of this oil giant.

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