Walt Disney Company shareholders rejected an executive compensation plan that could reward Chief Executive Officer Bob Iger with up to $48.5 million a year over four years plus an equity grant worth about $100 million, in a non-binding vote on Thursday at the companies annual shareholders meeting. Iger received a compensation package of $36.3 million in the last fiscal year.
The total compensation is tied to the closing of Disney’s planned $52.4 billion acquisition of film and TV assets from Twenty-First Century Fox and meeting performance targets.
The surprise non-binding vote came at Disney’s annual 2018 shareholder meeting in Houston on Thursday, which was also picketed by Disneyland Resort workers, including some whose unions are negotiating new contracts with the company demanding the company provide a “living wage.”
The demonstration was the latest effort by a coalition of unions at the Anaheim theme parks that is pushing Disney executives to raise wages for the resort’s 30,000 workers during a profitable period for the media giant.
Standing in front of the Hobby Center for the Performing Arts, the demonstrators held up signs reading “#stopdisneypoverty” among other slogans.
Disney’s executive pay plan was opposed by 52% of shareholders, with 44% in favor and 4% abstaining. Shareholders otherwise fell in line with the board of directors’ recommendations.
Robert A. Iger, Chairman and Chief Executive Officer, The Walt Disney Company said “Disney’s creative and financial success reflects the dedication of our cast members around the world, the strength of our stellar management team, and the support of a world-class board willing to take the bold, strategic steps required to achieve our greatest potential,”
“Our pending acquisition of 21st Century Fox will expand our ability to drive long-term value as an extraordinary entertainment company with the content, the platforms and the reach to meet the growing demands of consumers around the world.”
Based on preliminary results, all Disney Directors standing for election were elected to the Board: Susan E. Arnold; Mary T. Barra; Safra A. Catz; John S. Chen; Francis A. deSouza; Robert A. Iger; Maria Elena Lagomasino; Fred H. Langhammer; Aylwin B. Lewis; and Mark G. Parker.
21st Century Fox similarly believed that Bob’s continued stewardship was essential for the deal,” said Aylwin B. Lewis, Chair of the Board’s Compensation Committee. “Bob’s track record of creating tremendous value for shareholders speaks for itself, with a total shareholder return of 414% and an increase in Disney’s market capitalisation from $46 billion to $156 billion during his tenure. The Board accepts the result of today’s non-binding vote and will take it under advisement for future CEO compensation. We believe that the terms of Bob’s extension are in the best interests of our company and our shareholders, and essential to Disney’s ability to effectively maximize long-term value from this extraordinary acquisition.”
Shareholders agreed with the Board in rejecting two shareholder proposals, one regarding lobbying disclosure and the other regarding the Company’s proxy access bylaw.
Shareholders ratified the appointment of PricewaterhouseCoopers LLP as the Company’s independent registered public accountants for the fiscal year ending September 29, 2018, and also re-approved the terms of a previously adopted executive performance plan.
Pursuant to the tenure policy in the Company’s corporate governance guidelines, Robert W. Matschullat did not stand for re-election, and, as noted earlier in the year, Sheryl K. Sandberg and Jack Dorsey did not stand for re-election.
“I want to thank Bob, Sheryl and Jack for their wise counsel, support and friendship over the years, and I join the entire board in expressing our sincere appreciation to each of them for their service,” Mr. Iger said. “We all were saddened by the recent passing of Orin Smith, who had served as our Lead Director since 2012. A man of great integrity and kindness, Orin helped lead our company through a transformative era of growth, ensuring we’ll continue to entertain the world for generations to come, and he will be missed by all who knew him.”
Final voting tallies from this year’s annual meeting are subject to certification by the Company’s inspector of elections, and will be included in the Company’s report to be filed with the Securities and Exchange Commission within a week.