Apache CEO, Vermont Activist Build AllianceSource: Reuters | 21 April 2014
Steve Farris runs a USD-33-billion Texas oil and gas company and turns, for advice, to a bearded Vermont environmentalist.
As other energy firms battled climate change and antipollution activists in recent years, the Apache chief executive instead built an alliance with Steven Heim, managing director of Boston Common Asset Management, one of the better-known socially responsible investment firms.
The relationship helped Apache sidestep time-consuming proxy fights that have plagued some of its peers, in exchange for changes like committing to protect the rights of native peoples living near remote gas projects, and using cleaner chemicals in hydraulic fracturing, a drilling method that environmentalists say could threaten groundwater.
Heim also stages investor meetings for Apache where its executives and engineers take questions on topics such as pollution or human rights. These draw representatives from mainstream investment firms such as T. Rowe Price, Gabelli & Co, and Morgan Stanley & Co.
“What I’ve been trying to do is to elevate the level of understanding of issues by the investors, not just the executives,” Heim said.