Pay votes update… Spring takes a fall?

August 14, 2012

A few months ago, at the height of the British AGM season, we ran some numbers on shareholder protest votes over executive pay.

It seemed striking at the time that despite all the talk of revolution, the average vote against FTSE 100 companies’ remuneration reports had only edged higher, to 8.2% from 8.0% in 2011.

This week I’ve been catching up on the AGMs which have taken place since May, giving us a decent quorum of 92 companies, and the results are even more startling.

The average protest vote in 2012 now stands at 7.6% — less than it was last year. Abstentions (or ‘witheld’ votes, in the language of the proxy form) were also down, at 2.5% against 3.6% in 2011.

As we noted previously, this doesn’t blow out of the water the idea of proactive, emboldened investors. Aviva’s Andrew Moss and WPP’s Martin Sorrell would take issue with that, and it’s worth noting that the 2012 number would likely have been higher without some scrambling by Boards to placate grumbling investors as it became clear that revolution was in the air.

It does, however, help tell a more level-headed story about the nature and extent of any uprising by the grey-suited fund managers of the City.

For the completists, you can get in touch with me on Twitter via @reutersJoelD to receive a spreadsheet full of deeply exciting data.



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