California: Pearson faces a fresh wave of investor dissent at its annual shareholder meeting over the pay of CEO Andy Bird.
The London-based education materials provider has proposed boosting former Walt Disney executive Bird’s maximum potential pay packet to about $11 million.
Proxy advisory companies Institutional Shareholder Services and Glass Lewis & Co. both recommended investors vote against the remuneration policy at the annual meeting on April 28.
ISS said the increases were “excessive and do not appear sufficiently justified” in its report.
Glass Lewis said it opposed the policy because, although Pearson derives two-thirds of revenue from North America, it was “concerned that benchmarking against US companies has resulted in total pay opportunity for the chief executive which significantly exceeds that of UK listed companies of a similar size.”
Pearson declined to comment.
Bird’s pay increase comes from a roughly 50 per cent jump in his annual incentive to 300 per cent of salary, and a 29 per cent increase in a long-term incentive plan to 450 per cent of salary, according to the company’s annual report published last month. Both figures are performance-based maximums.
Bird’s base salary is set to increase 3.5 per cent to $1.29 million. The annual report said directors considered the “broader employee population who are more exposed to high levels of inflation and the associated cost-of-living pressures” when it devised the figure.
Pearson’s annual report acknowledged that the package is “towards the top end” for the UK, but added it’s “still well below that of CEOs at similarly-sized US companies.”
In 2020, to secure his appointment, Pearson granted Bird a “bespoke one-off co-investment award” worth 750 per cent of his salary, or about $9.4 million. About a third of shareholders opposed it at the time.