As GlaxoSmithKline gets ready for Wednesday’s annual general meeting in London, the company is bracing itself for yet another round of criticism concerning the financial packages on offer for its top executives.
What has sparked off this latest attack were comments made by Pensions Investment and Research Consultancy, a shareholder lobby group which advises fund managers and claims that GSK chief executive Jean-Pierre Garnier could receive anything from $3.8 million dollars right up to $30.5 million if he meets a variety of performance targets. According to Industry reports, PIRC argues that such a level of remuneration is unjustified and is asking shareholders to reject GSK’s executive pay deal at the London meeting. Mr Garnier earned $4.55 million in salary, bonuses and benefits in 2004.
This potential row brings to mind GSK’s AGM two years ago when shareholders defeated GSK’s pay plan in protest at a potential £22 million pay-off to Mr Garnier [[20/05/03a]]. Last year’s meeting was a quieter affair and shareholders cleared a revised executive pay package (which included tougher performance targets and halving of executive contracts without compensation from 24 months to a year) by almost a 90% majority [[18/05/2004b]].
This time, observers believe that shareholders will not act on PIRC’s recommendations and two other influential investor groups, the National Association of Pension Funds and the Association of British Insurers, are backing GSK’s management over pay. “They’ve made a lot of progress in cleaning up their act,” Lucy Butler, a spokeswoman for ABI told Bloomberg, adding that “a lot of original problems have been addressed.”