Denmark’s AkademikerPension said it has repeatedly voted ‘no’ to companies’ remuneration reports and remuneration policies, and that too many of the Nordic country’s largest listed firms were run with variable salaries to the top managers on an opaque basis.
The pension fund, which mainly covers upper secondary school teachers, said on Wednesday that in 22 out of the 32 annual general meetings it had participated in this year, it either voted against the remuneration reports, or both the remuneration report and policy, meaning that virtually none of the firms lived up to its requirements.
Anders Schelde, chief investment officer at AkademikerPension, said: “Overall, we still believe that transparency is too weak.”
When a company used variable remuneration, he went on to say, the pension fund wanted to know which key performance indicators they were using as a basis, and how much it took to trigger one thing or another.
The DKK178bn (€23.9bn) pension fund said some of the companies at whose AGMs it had voted ‘no’ to remuneration proposals included AP Moller-Maersk, Carlsberg, Novo Nordisk, Vestas and Pandora.
In some cases, it said, the salaries given to top management had been too high, and in others there had been uncertainty about how bonuses were calculated. At other times, the problem had been a lack of information about what top executives were being measured on, the pension fund said.
Schelde said AkademikerPension wanted to see whether companies in such cases took account of the salaries of executive directors at comparable businesses.
“You should not be completely out of step with your sector,” he said.
Today, the head of Norway’s giant sovereign wealth fund also spoke out about the issue of executive pay, focusing on the large international companies it invests in.
Nicolai Tangen, chief executive officer of Norges Bank Investment Management (NBIM), said in an interview with the Financial Times: “We are in an inflationary environment, where we are seeing many companies with pretty mediocre performance coming out with very big pay packages.
“We are seeing corporate greed reaching a level that we haven’t seen before, and it’s really becoming very costly for shareholders in terms of dilution,” he said.
NBIM this week voted against executive pay at Intel’s AGM, and against Apple in March, and has also taken similar action regarding IBM, General Electric and Harley-Davidson.
Tangen said, according to the FT, that NBIM would in particular target large salary packages that were not justified by performance, or were opaque or not sufficiently long-term.