Maria Jelescu Dreyfus is CEO and founder of Ardinall Investment Management, which is an investment firm that works in “sustainable investing and resilient infrastructure.” Photo via ExxonMobil

An energy transition expert and investor has joined Houston-headquartered ExxonMobil Corp.’s board of directors.

Maria Jelescu Dreyfus is CEO and founder of Ardinall Investment Management, which is an investment firm that works in “sustainable investing and resilient infrastructure.”

She previously spent 15 years at Goldman Sachs as a portfolio manager and managing director in the Goldman Sachs Investment Partners Group that focused on energy, industrials, transportation and infrastructure investments across the capital structure.

She currently serves as a director on the board of Cadiz Inc. and on the board of CDPQ. She also works in the energy transition space as a director on several companies' boards.

“We welcome Maria to the ExxonMobil Board as the company executes its strategy to grow shareholder value by playing a critical role in a lower-emissions future, even as we continue to provide the reliable energy and products the world needs,” Joseph Hooley, lead independent director for Exxon Mobil Corporation, says in a news release. “Her deep financial background combined with her extensive work in sustainability will complement our Board’s existing skill set.”

Dreyfus is the vice chair of the advisory board of Columbia University’s Center on Global Energy Policy, and serves as co-chair of its Women in Energy program.

“With the close of our Pioneer merger, we gained a premier, tier-one Permian asset, exceptional talent and a new Board member who brings keen strategic insight,” says ExxonMobil Chairman and CEO Darren Woods in the release. “Our boardroom, shareholders and stakeholders will greatly benefit from Maria’s experience.”

In a filing with federal regulators early Wednesday, the company said it would ask shareholders to vote on both issues during its annual meeting on June 13. Photo via Getty Images

Tesla wants shareholders to vote for $56B Musk pay package, Texas HQ move

decisions to be made

Tesla will ask shareholders to reinstate a $56 billion compensation package for CEO Elon Musk that was rejected by a judge in Delaware this year, and to move the electric car maker’s corporate home from Delaware to Texas.

In a filing with federal regulators early Wednesday, the company said it would ask shareholders to vote on both issues during its annual meeting on June 13.

In January, Chancellor Kathaleen St. Jude McCormick ruled that Musk is not entitled to a landmark compensation package awarded by Tesla’s board of directors that is potentially worth about $55.8 billion over 10 years starting in 2018.

Five years ago, a Tesla shareholder lawsuit alleged that the pay package should be voided because it was dictated by Musk and was the product of sham negotiations with directors who were not independent of him.

Musk said a month after the judge's ruling that he would try to move Tesla's corporate listing to Texas, where he has already moved company headquarters.

Almost immediately after the judge's ruling, Musk did exactly that with Neuralink, his privately held brain implant company, moving its corporate home from Delaware to Nevada.

In a letter to shareholders this week, Chairperson Robyn Denholm said that Musk has delivered on the growth it was looking for at the automaker, with Tesla meeting all of the stock value and operational targets in a 2018 CEO pay package that was approved by shareholders.

“Because the Delaware Court second-guessed your decision, Elon has not been paid for any of his work for Tesla for the past six years that has helped to generate significant growth and stockholder value,” Denholm wrote. “That strikes us — and the many stockholders from whom we already have heard — as fundamentally unfair, and inconsistent with the will of the stockholders who voted for it.”

Tesla posted record deliveries of more than 1.8 million electric vehicles worldwide in 2023, according to a regulatory filing. But the value its shares has eroded quickly this year as sales of electric vehicles soften.

Future growth is in doubt and it may be a challenge to get shareholders to back a fat pay package in an environment where competition has increased worldwide and demand for electric vehicle sales is fading.

Tesla's shares have lost more than one third of their value this year as massive price cuts have failed to draw more buyers. The company said it delivered 386,810 vehicles from January through March, nearly 9% fewer than it sold in the same period last year.

Shareholders also will be asked to cast a nonbinding advisory vote on 2023 executive compensation.

But the proxy statement filed with the Securities and Exchange Commission does not address Musk’s demand to own 25% of Tesla shares for him to pursue artificial intelligence and robotics at the company. At present he owns 20.5% of the company.

In January Musk challenged the Tesla board in a post on X, the social media platform he now owns, to come up with a new compensation package. Unless he gets 25%, he wrote that he’d prefer to build products outside of Tesla, apparently with another company.

Wedbush analyst Dan Ives, who is normally bullish on Tesla, said in an interview that the filing doesn't address multiple issues including Musk's future compensation.

“It's the elephant in the room because Musk has threatened over X, and it's been a massive overhang" for Tesla stock, Ives said.

Musk, he said, needs to commit to being Tesla CEO for three to five years and developing artificial intelligence with the company. When the company announces first-quarter earnings next week, Musk needs to spell out plans for future growth, including the status of the Model 2, a small EV that costs about $25,000, Ives said. Otherwise, dark days lie ahead, he said.

“Investors are not just taking Musk's word,” he said. “There's a feeling like the plane is crashing into the ocean and the board is focused on their own salted peanuts.”

Musk has less leverage than he did in January because of this year's stock slide. “He went from Cinderella story to the Nightmare on Elm Street in a matter of six months,” Ives said.

At the time of the Delaware court ruling, Musk’s package was worth more than $55.8 billion, but the court may have cost the mercurial CEO over $10 billion due to the company’s stock slide this year. The filing said Musk’s 2018 compensation was worth $44.9 billion at the close of trading on April 12.

Since last year, Tesla has cut prices as much as $20,000 on some models. The price cuts caused used electric vehicle values to drop and clipped Tesla’s profit margins.

This week, Tesla said it was letting about 10% of its workers go, about 14,000 people.

In the filing, Tesla's board wrote that the decision to seek shareholder approval of Musk's 2018 pay package was made by the board after it received a report from a special committee of one board member, Kathleen Wilson-Thompson.

The board wrote that if there is any significant vote against future executive pay packages, “we will consider our stockholders' concerns, and the compensation committee will evaluate whether any actions are necessary to address those concerns.”

Shares of Tesla Inc., which slid another 8% this week, fell about 1% Wednesday.

With the appointment, NOV Inc.’s board of directors now has of ten directors, nine of whom are independent members. Photo via Getty Images

NOV appoints former energy transition exec to board

new hire

Houston-headquartered NOV Inc. announced the appointment of a former energy transition executive to its board of directors.

Patricia Martinez was named to NOV’s board, and the appointment is effective as of March 6. She was formerly chief energy transition officer of Enerflex Ltd.

“We are delighted to welcome Patricia Martinez to NOV’s board of directors,” Clay Williams, chairman, president, and CEO of NOV, says in a news release. “Patricia brings extensive industry experience to our board, including growing energy businesses in international markets, and more recently guiding and developing projects within the energy transition ranging from CCUS to hydrogen to biogas. Her deep insights into emerging energy opportunities will help shape NOV’s energy transition strategy.”

Martinez, who also serves as a director of Par Pacific Holdings Inc., holds a bachelor’s degree in business administration and marketing from Universidad Argentina de la Empresa and an MBA from Houston Christian University.

With the appointment, NOV Inc.’s board of directors now has of ten directors, nine of whom are independent members.

Ad Placement 300x100
Ad Placement 300x600

CultureMap Emails are Awesome

Houston company teams up with offshore partner to level up decarbonization innovation

in it together

Two companies have teamed up on decarbonization efforts and made their relationship official at Houston's Offshore Technology Conference last week.

ABS and Seatrium signed a three-year Technology Collaboration Agreement at OTC, which expands on "their long running partnership on cutting-edge marine and technology projects," per a news release.

The agreement is entitled “Accelerating Decarbonization and Energy Transition,” and covers collaboration on technologies that fall under four broad themes: decarbonization, electrification, new energies and digital transformation.

“Together, ABS and Seatrium have a remarkable history of pioneering the technological frontiers in the marine and offshore industries,” says Christopher J. Wiernicki, ABS chairman and CEO, says in a release. "Our shared vision for the future, combined with our twin cultures of innovation and collaboration mean we are well placed to safely deliver the rapid technological advance our industry needs if we are to meet emissions targets and capitalize on the opportunities offered by decarbonization and digitalization."

The agreement is intended to support commercialization across the four identified themes.

“Seatrium is making significant strides in our visionary approach to engineering a sustainable, low-carbon energy future. This progress is achievable through pivotal industry collaborations with organizations like ABS," Chris Ong, CEO of Seatrium, adds. "We are more than just partners; we are natural allies united by a shared mission and driven by a powerful vision for a sustainable future.

"ABS and Seatrium have achieved great successes through our previous collaborations, and we are committed to harnessing our distinct strengths and capabilities to push the boundaries and transform the way we approach decarbonization, energy transition, and digital transformation,” he continues.

ABS, a 150-year-old marine and offshore energy innovation company, is headquartered in the Houston area. Seatrium, which is headquartered in Singapore, was recognized by ABS as the first shipyard group to deploy smart technologies in its operations.

From events to a $1.5B deal, here are 3 things to know in Houston energy transition news

take note

Editor's note: Dive headfirst into the new week with three quick things to catch up on in Houston's energy transition: a really big deal from last week, an expert's opinion on sustainability strategy, and events not to miss.

Really big deal: Houston energy transition growth capital firm closes $1.5B fund

EnCap Energy Transition's Fund II, or EETF II, was created to invest in solutions to decarbonize the power industry, and invest in low carbon fuels and carbon management. This second energy transition fund follows EnCap Energy Transition Fund I, a $1.2 billion fund that deployed capital to seven material portfolio company investments and four fund realizations with Broad Reach Power, Jupiter Power, Triple Oak, and Paloma Solar & Wind.

Previously, the company made investment commitments to five portfolio companies through EETF II, including Bildmore Renewables, Linea Energy, Parliament Solar, Power Transitions, and Arbor Renewable Gas. EnCap expects to have 8 to 10 portfolio companies in EETF II in total.

"The EnCap Energy Transition team is proud to have raised a sizeable pool of capital to continue to invest in the opportunity created by the shift to a lower-carbon energy system,” EnCap Energy Transition Managing Partner Jim Hughes says in a news release. Read more about the deal.

Guest column: Why companies are investing in sustainable energy technology

As senior vice president of Enchanted Rock, a Houston-based provider of microgrid technology, Ken Cowan has seen how energy resilience has emerged as a key strategy for businesses across industries, as he writes in a guest column for InnovationMap.

"Executives must recognize the strategic imperative of investing in resilient energy infrastructure like microgrid systems, which can provide a competitive advantage against organizations that do not have similar measures in place," he writes. "In doing so, they can navigate uncertainty with confidence, set their business up for future success, and emerge stronger and more resilient than ever before."

In the piece, he explores the value proposition and other benefits to making these changes. Click here to read more.

Events not to miss

Put these Houston-area energy-related events on your calendar.

  • The 2024 KPMG Global Energy Conference is taking place Wednesday, May 15, at the Post Oak Hotel. The event will focus on areas such as capital investment, mergers and acquisitions, risk and resiliency, technology, and human capital. Register now.
  • The Clean Energy Security and Reliability Forum is co-located with the 2024 RE+ Texas on May 15 to 16. This conference will bring together leading experts to discuss regulatory frameworks and technological innovations that can ensure that solar and energy storage projects are the most secure and reliable source of electricity generation on the U.S. grid. Register now.
  • The Energy Drone & Robotics Summit is coming to Houston June 10 to 12. Join for the ultimate event in the world for UAVs, Robotics & Data/AI, 3D Reality Capture, Geospatial and Digital Twins focused on the business and technology in energy & industrial operations, inspections, maintenance, surveying & mapping. Register now.
  • Join the over 150 senior energy and utilities leaders from June 17 to 18 in Houston for AI in Energy to unlock the potential of AI within your enterprise and delve into key areas for its development.Register now.

    Greentown accelerator in partnership with Shell wraps up with startup milestones met

    that's a wrap

    After six months of incubating with Shell through Greentown Labs, the 2023 Greentown Go Make startup cohort has completed with its recent showcase.

    The six participating startups — Caravel Bio, Circularise, Corumat, Lydian, Maple Materials, and Universal Matter — were originally announced in October. The cohort was selected from over 100 applications, and experts from Shell worked to support the cohort as they navigated the program.

    Universal Matter, headquartered in Burlington, Ontario, Canada, with a Houston office, is developing a proprietary flash Joule heating process that converts carbon waste into high-value and high-performance graphene materials to efficiently create sustainable, circular economies.

    During the program, Universal Matter worked with Shell to identify eight potential collaboration areas across upstream carbon feedstocks, downstream end-use applications for the startup’s graphene, and more, according to a news release from Greentown.

    “Go Make 2023 was run with exceptional efficiency to ensure that all startup members were able to gain maximum benefit from exchanges with the corporate partner,” says Universal Matter’s VP of Strategic Planning Peter van Ballegooie.

    “The one-on-one exchanges were extremely useful to startups, as they facilitated the connections to the relevant business units within Shell that could potentially benefit from the novel technologies being developed," he continues. "Establishing the connectivity to the right discussion partners within those various business units was absolutely key to the successful outcome of the program.”

    Greentown shared more about each of the company's progress throughout the program in a blog post.