More than half of Activision Blizzard shareholders backed CEO Bobby Kotick’s $155 million salary package, after a postponed vote that critics described as an attempt to avoid an embarrassing reprimand.
After holding its annual meeting scheduled for June 14, the video game company held The session was lifted until Monday to address “misleading” information about Kotick’s 2020 salaries. The delay has drawn criticism from the Council of Institutional Investors, which represents large pension funds.
“With only 54 percent of the vote in favour, the proposal nearly failed to gain majority support – Activision appears to have just wrapped enough arm to pass the measure,” said Michael Varner, director of executive wage research at CtW Investment Group. .
The company was in danger of receiving only scant support for a wage vote after Institutional Shareholder Services advisors and Glass Lewis recommended investors vote against it.
“The additional time requested by shareholders has allowed them to thoroughly review the facts about Activision Blizzard’s stringent pay-per-performance compensation practices,” a company spokeswoman said in a statement.
The company changed Kotick’s pay after feedback from shareholders – his 2019 pay package received support from 58 percent of shareholders. Activision cut Kotick’s salary for 2021 by 50 percent to $875,000 and curbed bonuses for 2021 and 2022.
Most of Kotick’s $155 million package for 2020 in prizes was tied to the 2016 goal of doubling the company’s market value, and its shares soared last year amid the coronavirus pandemic. Strong stock performance usually satisfies investors angry about CEO paychecks, but Kotick’s big bonuses have raised concerns.
Activision has come under pressure from CtW, which has called on other shareholders to reject the company’s executives’ salaries.
Glass Lewis said it was not aware of any precedent for such a move to delay a vote of no.
Investors usually pay corporate votes with at least 90 percent backing. So far this year, S&P 500 companies have received an 88.6 percent boost for executive pay, according to Semler Brossy, a wage advisory firm.