By Nina Kienle

A group of TotalEnergies shareholders called on the French energy major to separate the functions of chief executive and board chair ahead of its annual general meeting.

Switzerland's Ethos Foundation and a coalition of 19 international pension-fund and asset-management companies said Thursday that they filed a resolution to hold an advisory vote at TotalEnergies' annual meeting next month. They said the separation of functions is widely recognized as a good governance practice.

A TotalEnergies spokesman said the company's governance structure is a competence of the board, and that a shareholder resolution is likely to be regarded as inadmissible in this context, regardless of its advisory nature.

Patrick Pouyanne has been holding the combined roles of CEO and chairman for nearly ten years.

The cofilers of the resolution argued that the concentration of power in the hands of one person poses an inherent risk of conflict of interest. Splitting the chair and CEO roles could improve dialogue with the board on climate and transition issues at a time many investors see TotalEnergies' transition strategy as not ambitious enough, the Ethos Foundation said.

"This shareholder resolution is not intended to call into question Mr. Pouyanne's role as CEO, but to introduce better governance within the group," the Ethos Foundation said.

TotalEnergies said major changes facing the energy industry require agility of movement that the combined chair and CEO functions strengthen. The company's board recently reaffirmed its view that the combined functions are the most appropriate for dealing with the industry's challenges.

The cofilers represent more than 1 billion euros ($1.07 billion) of the French company's market capitalization.

Write to Nina Kienle at

(END) Dow Jones Newswires

04-18-24 0713ET