Over a Third of Unilever Shareholders Voted Against Director Pay

Photo by Sean Biehle from Flickr

Last Wednesday, Unilever experienced a vital shareholder revolt at its London AGM, as a significant number of investors opposed the pay packets of the directors of the company.

More than a third (35.8 percent) of the votes cast rejected the remuneration policy, which establishes a target annual bonus of a maximum of £2.16m for Paul Polman, the chief executive of Unilever.

The firm acknowledged the said results. Unilever stated: “Our new remuneration policy – which was approved by shareholders last year and subsequently applied to the top 3,000 managers in the company, outside the executive directors – is simpler, longer term, and requires greater personal commitment through share ownership to drive reward.”

The company vowed to continue to have a binding vote regarding remuneration every three years and an advisory vote yearly.

However, the investors decided to pass the remuneration report, despite the advice of a certain investor service to vote against the €2.3m (£2m) bonus that is set to be given to Polman.

Another shareholder meeting was held in Rotterdam last Thursday. The London AGM that was held last Wednesday could possibly be the last one to ever be held in the United Kingdom, as Unilever pushes ahead with the plans of the company to have a single headquarters that will be based in the Netherlands.

A vote on the said move is anticipated to be held later this year, with some of the shareholders of the company already expressing their frustrations with regards to the said plans.

Columbia Threadneedle, a Top 10 shareholder of Unilever, hit out at the lack of engagement with the plans earlier this year.

The said unrest has been heightened by a political crisis that occurred in Holland, where the Dutch Prime Minister has endured tough questions regarding the role that Unilever played in a tax change in the country.