Rex Tillerson Cuts Ties To Exxon Mobil Amid Conflict Of Interest Concerns

The Senate Foreign Relations Committee is expected to begin confirmation hearings for Tillerson as secretary of state next week.

Rex Tillerson is severing ties with Texas-based Exxon Mobil. The move aims to address concerns about any conflicts of interest the nominee for secretary of state may have, ahead of what's expected to be a rough Senate confirmation process.

Tillerson retired as chairman and CEO on December 31, after more than 40 years with Exxon. According to a filing with the SEC, Tillerson will give up more than 2 million Exxon Mobil shares he would have received over the next decade, as part of a retirement package worth $180 million.

"They've already announced that they're taking his retirement and putting that in a blind trust," says Les Csorba, head of the Houston office for executive search firm Heidrick & Struggles. Csorba served in the George H.W. Bush White House, where he focused on presidential appointments at the State Department.

"He won't be able to serve in any capacity in the oil and gas industry from this point on for ten years," Csorba says. "So he's doing all the right things to make sure that he's completely clear of any conflicts."

Tillerson will also give up $7 million in compensation and benefits he would have earned had he stayed on as Exxon Mobil CEO until March. That's when he turns 65, the company's mandatory retirement age.

Several members of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee – including Republican Senator Marco Rubio (FL) and Ranking Democrat Ben Cardin (MD) – have raised concerns about Tillerson's views on Russia. Tillerson forged close ties with President Vladimir Putin, as his company sought to drill in the Russian Arctic.

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Andrew Schneider

Andrew Schneider

Politics and Government Reporter

Andrew heads Houston Public Media’s coverage of national, state, and local elections. He also reports on major policy issues before the Texas Legislature and county and city governments across Greater Houston. Before taking up his current post, Andrew spent five years as Houston Public Media’s business reporter, covering the oil...

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