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Mar 6, 2019

Disney slashed Iger's pay - Calpers still gives it thumbs down

Bob Iger

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The largest pension fund in the U.S. still isn’t happy with Walt Disney Co.’s executive pay.

The California Public Employees’ Retirement System is opposing the company’s compensation plan at Thursday’s annual meeting and is voting against two board members who sit on Disney’s (DIS.N) compensation committee, according to the pension fund’s website. On Monday, Disney said it reduced Chief Executive Officer Bob Iger’s future pay by US$13.5 million a year.

Compensation has been thorny issue for the world’s largest entertainment company. At last year’s annual meeting, more than half of investors voted against the pay plan. While such votes are nonbinding, the plans are usually approved overwhelmingly by investors. Iger routinely ranks among the highest-paid U.S. executives.

In December, Disney toughened the performance targets necessary for Iger to receive a potential US$135 million award tied to his contract extension and the upcoming acquisition of 21st Century Fox Inc.’s entertainment assets. This week, it scrapped increases salary, annual bonus and equity awards that he was entitled to after the deal closes, amounting to tens of millions of dollars over several years.

All three of the major shareholder advisory firms have recommended a vote against the company’s pay plan at Thursday’s annual meeting, which will be held in St. Louis.

Proxy Services

Institutional Shareholder Services, Egan-Jones Proxy Services and Glass Lewis & Co. all updated their reports on Disney following the changes in Iger’s pay, but continue to urge rejection. ISS said the reductions in Iger’s compensation mitigate its concerns but the change was too late to alter its position.

Calpers also voted against the re-election of General Motors’ CEO Mary Barra and money manager Maria Elena Lagomasino, two Disney directors who sit on its compensation committee. The fund, closely watched for its corporate governance efforts, holds 3.2 million Disney shares, about 0.2 per cent of the stock outstanding, according to Bloomberg data.