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PGGM to launch global campaign against excessive remuneration

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Dutch asset manager PGGM is to launch a global campaign to curb excessive remuneration for the chief executives at large listed companies, financial daily Het Financieele Dagblad (FD) has reported.

Marcel Jeucken and Catherine Jackson – managing director and senior adviser for responsible investment, respectively – told the FD that engagement and voting at annual general meetings had not been enough to achieve PGGM’s goals. 

They said the asset manager, pensions provider for €178bn healthcare scheme PFZW, was setting its sights on a dozen “repeat offenders”.

“As a shareholder,” Jackson told the FD, “we want to contribute to solving the problem of income inequality and reverse practices that have increased during the past decade. The providers of capital must take back control of remuneration practice.”

Much to the annoyance of PGGM, he said, pay for the “upper echelons” is increasing, particularly in the US.

The asset manager cited the return of cash bonuses, which it said failed to encourage long-term performance, as well as signing bonuses and ‘golden parachutes’.

PGGM said it had employed its new directive over the first three months of this year, venting its dissatisfaction by voting against remuneration proposals in 91% of the cases in the US. 

Over the second quarter, it did the same in 79% of cases, it said.

Jeucken argued that companies should stop comparing their remuneration levels to comparable firms and instead link pay to social targets and “PGGM’s objectives”.

“If companies can’t comply with expectations for the returns we need to pay our pension obligations, a variable remuneration is out of the question,” he added.

With its new remuneration policy, PGGM said it was seeking “new boundaries”.

Last week, the €373bn civil service scheme ABP announced that it would also increase its focus on remuneration.

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