Shareholders Say Nay to Pay Say

April 10, 2007 ( - Shareholders of two major financial institutions have turned down an opportunity to have a greater say in executive pay.

At Morgan Stanley, which held its annual meeting in Purchase, New York, 37% of shares supported the so-called “say on pay.”    A similar measure fared better at the Bank of New York, where 47.3% supported the measure, according to Reuters.

AFSCME and governance groups submitted proposals to dozens of U.S. companies. Morgan Stanley and Bank of New York shareholders were the first to cast votes in the shareholder meeting season just underway.

Morgan Stanley had urged shareholders to reject the proposal, saying investors can already express their views to directors; that an up-or-down vote does not give the board specific information and that any limits on pay could make it less competitive in attracting executives.

Last month Congressman Barney Frank (D-Massachusetts) introduced a bill that would give shareholders a vote – albeit a non-binding one – on how much top corporate executives should be paid.   The bill also contained a separate advisory vote if a company gives a new, not yet disclosed, “golden parachute” while simultaneously negotiating to buy or sell a company (see  Frank Introduces Executive Pay Bill ).