Anglo American faces opposition to executive pay

Mining group Anglo American faced a 42% vote opposing its remuneration report at its AGM this week. Though not a complete rejection the company acknowledged that it needed to engage with shareholders further in advance of the remuneration policy vote next year which will be binding.

Manifest gave Anglo-American’s remuneration a grade D in its meeting business report. The primary concerns were the chief executive’s salary – Mark Cutifani received a UK total figure for 2015 of £3.4m – which was high when compared with the performance of the company as well as in relation to the pay received by its employees – and the potential rewards associated with the executive share incentive schemes – the targets which are not fully disclosed and based on previous payouts, do not seem to have been stretching enough. Commenting on the current executive pay policy Manifest said there was a “weak alignment of interests between executives and shareholders.”

The company had the worst performance of any stock in the FTSE 100 last year and was hit by falling commodity prices. It is now in the process of selling a large section of its mining interests around the world to reduce the company’s net debt below $10 billion this year.  Commenting at the  AGM Sir John Parker, chairman of Anglo American said, “There has to be a mixture of measures focused on financial and relative market performance as well as non-financial metrics for other critical work that drives longer-term strategic success. I believe that our remuneration policy does strike that balance. However, as is the case every three years, we will be taking a fresh look at the policy during the next 12 months in order to put it to a fresh round of consultation with shareholders, followed by a vote at next year’s AGM.

“In the case of the remuneration outcomes for 2015 – without doubt a very tough year for us and for our shareholders – I would point out that our existing policy did result in the chief executive’s variable pay being just one-fifth of the maximum achievable. In addition, his salary was frozen, as it was for all senior management.”

In a statement released with the AGM results the company said dialogue between the company and shareholders prior to the meeting had helped to clarify issues following the high level of concern expressed about executive pay for 2015 and added, “Setting executive remuneration in a volatile industry such as mining can be challenging and the remuneration committee intends to again engage with shareholders in order to refine the policy to ensure that it is both appropriate and motivational.”

Meanwhile, the shareholder resolution calling for improved reporting on the company’s climate change readiness, which had been backed by management, was passed with 96% support.

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