Posts in CEO Pay
Do Media Chiefs Deserve the Lavish Pay Packages They Rake In?

“It’s a warped economic system,” says Rosanna Landis Weaver, program manager of the CEO Pay Program at shareholder advocacy group As You Sow.

To be fair, the job is fraught with peril. Many of these media chiefs are navigating a rapidly changing world order, one in which movie attendance is slipping in popularity and cable cords are being cut. If that’s not enough, there’s a massive wave of consolidation afoot among the traditional media giants, as a way to compete in the direct-to-consumer space with streaming powerhouse Netflix.

“Looking back, it will be interesting to see whether or not the companies that managed all the changes the best were the ones with the highest-paid executives,” says Landis Weaver.

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The gigantic sum Facebook pays for Mark Zuckerberg’s personal security

Whatever the reason for the sizable increase in security costs, some believe the company should be more transparent. "At a minimum, shareholders deserve disclosure about why" costs increase that noticeably, said Rosanna Landis Weaver, an executive compensation expert for the nonprofit As You Sow. "When there’s a marked increase like that, there should be an explanation in the footnotes."

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Fund managers ‘asleep at the wheel’ over exorbitant executive pay

Rosanna Landis Weaver, programme manager of the CEO pay initiative at As You Sow, said there is growing “awareness of the hazards of outlandish CEO pay packages”. She added: “Unfortunately, awareness has not translated into votes. The rubber-stamping trend continues, even with evidence showing persistent underperformance of the highest paid CEOs.” Andrew Behar, chief executive of As You Sow, added that it was time for the biggest fund managers to realise “how they’re abandoning their fiduciary duty by continuing to approve absurd pay packages”.

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Here are the most overpaid CEOs in America right now

Shareholder advocacy group As You Sow’s annual report of the 100 Most Overpaid CEOs has just been released and, as usual, the salaries of the top CEOs are staggering. Topping this year’s list are Oracle’s co-CEOs Safra A. Catz and Mark Hurd who made a whopping $82,065,708. While that’s not the highest price tag, As You Sow determined they were the most over-compensated CEOs through a complex methodology that you can read here, if you’re into that sort of thing.

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The world’s largest investment firm wants corporations to “serve a social purpose”

“I appreciated today’s letter, particularly the encouragement not to ‘succumb to short-term pressures to distribute earnings,’” said Rosanna Landis Weaver, program manager at shareholder advocacy group As You Sow, which promotes environmental and social corporate responsibility, in an email, adding that she took his words to be a reference to stock buybacks and dividends — measures often designed to placate shareholders without boosting the long-term value of a company.

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The unusual way KB Home punished its CEO for screaming profanities at Kathy Griffin

Rosanna Landis Weaver, an executive compensation expert at the nonprofit As You Sow, said it's unusual to see a CEO's bonus -- which typically follows formulas tied to profit goals or other financial performance measures -- docked for offensive personal behavior. But, she said, "I think boards are feeling more emboldened to address compensation directly and that’s a good thing. We keep talking about pay for performance, but pay can be a stick as well as a carrot."

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Vanguard fails to exert influence over high pay

Rosanna Landis Weaver, corporate pay expert at As You Sow, a pressure group that campaigns for responsible investment, is visibly frustrated by the situation. “Vanguard is growing and growing. Its size in the market gives it a huge responsibility. I think passive investment and low fees definitely have a place, but passive investment should not mean that voting [by asset managers] is passive as well.” As You Sow compiles an annual list of what it considers to be the 100 most overpaid chief executive in the US, based on metrics including total shareholder return versus increases in bonus payments and share awards.

According to As You Sow’s latest report, released in February, Vanguard voted against nine of the 100 most overpaid chief executives last year, which the campaign group described as a “shockingly low number” and “way below almost every other fund manager’s [record]”.

There is an additional business incentive for Vanguard to take a tougher stance. Ms Landis Weaver says she used to invest in one of the company’s funds, but recently sold out due to Vanguard’s voting record.

I strongly suspect other clients — both large institutions and individuals — would also like to see firmer action by the fund house to tackle the widening gap in earnings between company executives and average workers. And what is there to lose? Such action would only improve the company’s public image even further.

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'Overpaid' CEOs a Risk for Investors?

As You Sow flagged as "overpaid" a number of chief executive officers known for high compensation despite the mixed performance of their companies' shares over the period.

The Oakland, California nonprofit found the average returns for the 100 S&P 500 companies it had previously identified as having the most questionable pay went on to underperform the index by 2.9 percentage points over a roughly two-year period ended on Jan. 31.

Study lead author Rosanna Landis Weaver said investors could have used the findings of a similar report from 2015 to short the shares of companies giving their CEOs outsized rewards.

"If you have a CEO whose primary interest is increasing his own wealth, that's not going to be good for shareholders," she said in an interview.

As You Sow made a financial prediction of what each CEO might have been paid based on shareholder returns. Companies with the most red flags and biggest gaps between their actual and predicted compensation were judged the most overpaid.

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Mutual Fund Giant Vanguard Flexes Its Muscles

Vanguard’s apparent support for the powers that be extends to compensation. According to an analysis from shareholder rights group As You Sow, Vanguard and BlackRock were the most likely of the 25 largest mutual fund families to support pay packages of highly paid CEOs—each voting in favor 97% of the time, vs. 78% for the industry overall. Vanguard, though, says it prefers to address CEO pay by influencing board composition. In the past year, it voted against 396 directors in the U.S. who served on compensation committees.

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CEO PayAs You Sow
Mylan’s Pay for CEO Bresch Grates on Lawmakers, Many Investors

Shareholders opposing the pay program at Mylan’s June 24 annual meeting included BlackRock Inc., the world’s largest investment manager, according to Fund Votes, a company that tracks proxy voting. That’s an unusual move: BlackRock and Vanguard Group Inc., which are among the largest shareholders at most big U.S. companies, vote with boards on executive pay 97 percent of the time, according to As You Sow, a shareholder advocacy group.

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A Millionaire Is Telling BlackRock to Say No to Big CEO Pay

Still, they vote with boards on executive pay 97 percent of the time, according to As You Sow, an advocacy group that has received financial support from Silberstein. That record conflicts with popular sentiment. About 74 percent of those surveyed in a nationwide poll in February don’t believe chief executive officers are paid appropriately relative to workers, and 62 percent say there should be caps on their pay. The survey, conducted by Stanford University’s Rock Center for Corporate Governance, found those views are held across the political spectrum, and despite respondents underestimating how much CEOs actually earn.

 

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CEO PayAs You Sow