Swiss shareholders demand say on pay
Nov 07, 2008
put forward by Swiss government
Shareholder activist body
is pressing the Swiss government for more investor rights on executive
remuneration. The request comes in response to an address made by Swiss
Federal Council member Eveline Widmer-Schlumpf, who recently told
journalists the government was considering making a proposal to allow
shareholders to vote on non-executive director fees.
Ethos sees the proposal as
commendable and an important breakthrough if it were to happen, but deems it
insufficient, urging that shareholders also be given a say on executive
management remuneration. ‘The government’s announcement to the press was an
attempt to show it is taking issues more seriously in the context of the
credit crunch,’ remarks an Ethos spokesperson.
The shareholder activist
group is also lobbying for AGMs to allow investors the right to vote on
share-based incentive plans, a measure that is already in force across the
US, the UK, the Netherlands and France. Ethos also says shareholders should
be able to vote on the remuneration report, separately from the annual
report, as is the case in the UK, the Netherlands, Australia and Sweden, and
possibly in the US in the near future.
Members of Ethos are waiting
to see what the Swiss government comes up with but, even if their points are
taken into account, there is no guarantee the legislation would be
applicable any time soon. ‘The proposal of the bill will be put forward to
the Swiss parliament next week, but it may take half a year to push it
through,’ the Ethos spokesperson continues.
The Swiss government was
unavailable for comment, but Ethos is convinced shareholder rights regarding
executive remuneration are necessary to restore investor confidence and aid
the efficient operation of financial markets.
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