Financial Times, January 15, 2017 article: "BlackRock demands end to excessive executive pay" and January 16, 2017 commentary: "Let he who has increased wages in line with their CEO’s salary cast the first BlackRock" [Starting a new year of attention to executive compensation's relationship to production of goods and services]

Forum Home Page [see Broadridge note below]

 The Shareholder ForumTM`

Fair Investor Access

See related case examples of

Dell Inc.

appraisal rights for intrinsic value realization

and

Walgreen Co.

stock buyback policies

"Fair Access" Home Page

"Fair Access" Program Reference

For graphs of specific company and related industry returns, see

Returns on Corporate Capital

For graphs of specific company voting for the past 5 years, see

Shareholder Support Rankings

 

 

 

Forum distribution:

Starting a new year of attention to executive compensation's relationship to production of goods and services

 

Sources: Financial Times, January 15, 2017 article and January 16, 2017 commentary

FINANCIAL TIMES

Executive Pay

BlackRock demands end to excessive executive pay

Set FTSE 350 pay and pensions in line with rest of workforce, says asset manager

© Bloomberg

January 15, 2017 by: Chris Flood

BlackRock has demanded an end to pay awards that outpace ordinary employees at the UK’s biggest companies ahead of a round of critical shareholder votes in 2017.

The world’s largest asset manager is also pressing companies to curtail the generous pension packages that are commonly granted to top executives, calling for retirement contributions to be “in line with the rest of the workforce”.

BlackRock’s tougher stance on executive pay is detailed in a letter, seen by the Financial Times, that was sent last week to the chairmen of all companies in the FTSE 350 index.

The letter will provide fresh ammunition to campaigners calling for reform of executive pay.

Total pay for bosses of FTSE 100 companies has quadrupled over the past 18 years as repeated efforts by shareholders to control spiralling remuneration awards have failed.

BlackRock initially indicated that its stance on executive pay had hardened during a parliamentary hearing in December, when it said it would vote against members of remuneration committees that agreed to excessive rewards.

The asset manager’s letter goes further, arguing that pay increases for top executives should reflect those given to the broader workforce.

“In the case of a significant pay increase that is out of line with the rest of the workforce, BlackRock expects the company to provide a strong supporting rationale,” said Amra Balic, head of BlackRock’s investment stewardship team in Europe.

The letter also states that board committees should consider and respond to voting results on remuneration awards at the previous year’s annual shareholder meeting.

Companies historically have frequently used comparisons with pay awards made to executives at peer groups as a justification for agreeing more generous remuneration packages for executives. BlackRock is highly critical of this widespread practice, known as benchmarking.

“Benchmarking should only be used as a frame of reference for what competitors are paying, rather than as a starting point for negotiations,” said Ms Balic.

Companies should also disclose more information about their use of remuneration consultants, including the names of those appointed and their fees, she said.

Roughly half of the companies in the FTSE 350 index will face binding votes on pay in 2017. Binding votes give shareholders the final say on executive pay awards, instead of company directors.

Anger among pension funds over the long-running failure of companies to curb excessive pay for top executives is threatening to spark a fresh round of shareholder revolts this year.

Theresa May, the prime minister, has promised to tackle the issue and the UK government published a consultation paper in November that outlined a range of possible reforms.

The government wants the link restored between executive pay awards and company performance. Academics say the metrics used most widely to judge performance — earnings per share growth and total shareholder return — are easily manipulated and promote damaging short-term decision making by executives.

“We are wary of companies using metrics such as earnings per share or total shareholder return [as performance measures],” said Ms Balic.

BlackRock would instead “encourage” companies to use fundamental measures of the value created by a company such as comparisons of returns on invested capital, she added.

FINANCIAL TIMES


ALPHAVILLE


Kadhim Shubber

Let he who has increased wages in line with their CEO’s salary cast the first BlackRock

[January 16, 2017] by: Kadhim Shubber

Over the weekend, a bunch of outlets reported about a letter BlackRock had sent to the chairmen of every company in the FTSE 350. Here’s the FT’s take:

BlackRock has demanded an end to pay awards that outpace ordinary employees at the UK’s biggest companies ahead of a round of critical shareholder votes in 2017.

The world’s largest asset manager is also pressing companies to curtail the generous pension packages that are commonly granted to top executives, calling for retirement contributions to be “in line with the rest of the workforce”.

BlackRock’s tougher stance on executive pay is detailed in a letter, seen by the Financial Times, that was sent last week to the chairmen of all companies in the FTSE 350 index.

Here’s the intro to the letter, with some light paraphrasing from us:

Dear People Further Down The Food Chain,

As you are no doubt aware, the populist apocalypse is upon us and soon we will all be consumed by flames. It is the responsibility of every cat, fat or otherwise, to do what they can. In that spirit, kindly stop awarding yourselves massive pay rises. Though you are no doubt already lost to the mob, your sacrifices may offer some hope up to us.

It goes on in a similar vein at quite some length.

There are few questions that spring to mind here. The first is, ‘What does BlackRock CEO Larry Fink earn?’ The answer, as you may or may not know, is absolutely zero, for he is well aware that only people who work for free may comment on issues of executive pay. (The real answer, of course, is more than almost every single CEO at the companies BlackRock wrote to in its recent letter.)

The second is whether or not BlackRock itself adheres to the rule of only awarding its boss pay rises in line with rises with the rest of its employees, which is what the asset manager is demanding of FTSE bosses.

If we look at the period from 2009 to 2015, largely because those accounts and proxy statements are most readily available, then we find that BlackRock’s annual employee compensation bill rose about 122 per cent to $4bn, while the number of employees rose 50 per cent to around 13,000. In the same period, Fink’s total compensation rose 47 per cent to $26m.

The third question is ‘So what’s BlackRock going to do about it?’ The firm has been repeatedly criticised for talking the talk, but then not walking the walk when it comes to voting down pay packages. As The New York Times wrote last year: “On pay issues, anyway, Mr. Fink’s big stick is more like a wet noodle.”

With a recent UK poll showing a majority of voters, even Conservative ones, backing a cap on bosses’ salaries, it might finally be time for Larry Fink to stiffen his noodle take real action.


Copyright The Financial Times Limited 2017.

 

 

This Forum program is open, free of charge, to anyone concerned with investor interests in the development of marketplace standards for expanded access to information for securities valuation and shareholder voting decisions. As stated in the posted Conditions of Participation, the Forum's purpose is to provide decision-makers with access to information and a free exchange of views on the issues presented in the program's Forum Summary. Each participant is expected to make independent use of information obtained through the Forum, subject to the privacy rights of other participants.  It is a Forum rule that participants will not be identified or quoted without their explicit permission.

This Forum program was initiated to address issues and objectives defined by participants in the 2010 "E-Meetings" program relevant to broad public interests in marketplace practices, rather than investor decisions relating to only a single company. The Forum may therefore invite program support of several companies that can provide both expertise and examples of leadership relating to the issues being addressed.

Inquiries about this Forum program and requests to be included in its distribution list may be addressed to access@shareholderforum.com.

The information provided to Forum participants is intended for their private reference, and permission has not been granted for the republishing of any copyrighted material. The material presented on this web site is the responsibility of Gary Lutin, as chairman of the Shareholder Forum.

Shareholder Forum™ is a trademark owned by The Shareholder Forum, Inc., for the programs conducted since 1999 to support investor access to decision-making information. It should be noted that we have no responsibility for the services that Broadridge Financial Solutions, Inc., introduced for review in the Forum's 2010 "E-Meetings" program and has since been offering with the “Shareholder Forum” name, and we have asked Broadridge to use a different name that does not suggest our support or endorsement.