Big chunk of AstraZeneca shareholders vote against boss pay hike but majority still backs it

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AstraZeneca PLC’s (LON:AZN) remuneration package for chief executive Pascal Soriot has been just about approved on Tuesday’s annual general meeting.


Nearly 40% of shareholders voted against it, with 60% voting in favour.


READ: AstraZeneca faces investor backlash after hiking chief executive bonus by GBP2.3mln


The pay proposal includes bonuses of GBP12mln or more, as the award would be 2.5 times his base salary plus eligibility for long-term share awards worth 6.5 times his salary.


The French businessman could pocket as much as GBP17.8mln for 2020 if shares in the pharma giant keep rising.


“The Committee recognises that a meaningful proportion of shareholders… were not able to support the new policy,” the FTSE 100 company said.


“The Committee will continue to engage and listen to ensure investors’ concerns regarding the approach to executive remuneration are understood.”


“Since their appointment, the Executive Directors have driven a remarkable turnaround in the company’s performance, resulting in a TSR close to 300% over the last eight years and 77% over the last three years,” it continued.


“This decision was taken in the interests of all stakeholders to support the future growth of the company, and provide us with the flexibility required to reward outstanding achievements with competitive pay for performance packages.”


Aviva PLC (LON:AV.) and Standard Life Aberdeen PLC (LON:SLA) have voted to block the proposal, it was revealed in the weekend, as they fear the pay raise would “tarnish” the pharma giant’s reputation after vowing to deliver COVID-19 vaccines not for a profit during the pandemic.


Shareholders have also approved the proposal to acquire rare disease specialist Alexion Pharmaceuticals for US$39bn as announced in December.


Shares dipped 1% to 7,622p on Tuesday afternoon.

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