Verizon Shareholders Get Say on Pay

May 21, 2007 ( - Initially deemed "too close to call", Verizon Communications shareholders have narrowly passed a "say on pay" shareholder measure.

The results of the May 3 shareholder vote were disclosed by the firm on Friday, with a final vote count showing the “say on pay” proposal had won 50.18% of votes cast.   The resolution requests Verizon’s board of directors to adopt a policy giving shareholders an annual, nonbinding vote on senior executive compensation packages.

While a number of “say on pay” resolutions have been put forward this year by shareholders at major U.S. corporations   – triggered by concerns over soaring executive compensation packages – the Verizon resolution was only the second to pass muster this proxy season (Blockbuster Inc.’s shareholders approved a similar measure earlier this month), though similar proposals came close at Merck & Co. (49.2%) and AT&T Inc. (43.8%).

Verizon, which has said the proposal would not necessarily be binding, said the board was “already committed to a continuous review of the company’s executive compensation practices,” according to Reuters.   Further, the firm “…will further consider its policies in light of the high level of shareholder interest and the active discussion taking place with respect to the advisory vote in a variety of forums, including the U.S. Congress,” according to spokesman Robert Varettoni reported the Wall Street Journal.

Two other related Verizon shareholder proposals failed by small margins, comprising one to let shareholders approve severance packages and another to require the company to disclose who its compensation consultants are. Both proposals got about 47% of the votes.