May Get 'Say on Pay'
By KAJA WHITEHOUSE and CHRISTOPHER HINTON
May 4, 2007; Page B4
Shareholder support for a proposal asking to give
Verizon Communications Inc. investors an advisory vote on executive
pay was too close to call, raising the prospect that Verizon might be
the first company where the say-on-pay effort has been passed.
The result of the vote at Verizon's annual shareholder
meeting will be determined after further tabulation, which may take
about a week, the New York telecommunications company said. A
preliminary tally showed a tie of 49% "for" and 49% "against" the
proposal, said the Association of BellTel Retirees, a Verizon retirees
The proposal, put forward by C. William Jones,
president of the retirees group, asked that investors be given a
nonbinding vote on executive pay. This type of proposal -- which has
become a pet issue for activist shareholders and some legislators -- has
fallen short of receiving a majority of support at other companies,
including Bank of New York Co. and Morgan Stanley.
Dozens of firms have been targeted with these proposals
this year, up from just a handful when the idea was tested in 2006.
Highlighting this issue, the House passed a bill to formalize this
tactic at public companies. In February, supplemental-insurance firm
Aflac Inc. became the first to announce adoption of this change,
saying it will give investors a nonbinding vote starting in 2009.
Verizon's compensation practices were a target at the
annual meeting, with several proposals asking the company to make
changes to its pay practices and a campaign to withhold votes for
directors because of what some shareholders said was a disconnect
between chief executive pay and performance.
Last year, Verizon CEO Ivan Seidenberg's total
compensation was $21.3 million, according to the company's proxy.
Write to Kaja Whitehouse at
firstname.lastname@example.org and Christopher Hinton at