A substantial portion of AstraZeneca investors did not approve of the pay package for Chief Executive Officer Pascal Soriot during company's annual meeting on Tuesday. While the pay proposal was cleared, it was approved by a very narrow margin with 40 per cent voting against it.
The pay package could see Soriot taking home pay and perks up to 17.8 million pounds as remuneration for 2021, reported The Guardian. The pay proposal was tabled during the annual meeting in Cambridge, where it needed the approval of shareholders with more than 50 per cent stake. Investors cumulatively owing 39.8 per cent voted against the motion, while the rest supported it.
Under AstraZeneca's long-term pay plan, Soriot's share bonus is set to rise to 650 per cent of his base salary of 1.3 million pounds, from 550 per cent, the report said. The pharma major is also planning to increase his maximum annual bonus to 250 per cent from 200 per cent, depending on the performance targets being hit.
Several shareholder advisory groups and fund managers had disproved of the pay proposal. US-based investor advisory groups ISS and Glass Lewis, as well as UK-based Pirc had asked shareholders to vote against the pay policy, The Guardian report said. UK's Investment Association had issued an 'amber top' warning, the second-most severe alert about corporate governance, it further added.
Meanwhile, the AstraZeneca remuneration committee said that it undertook in-depth consultation with its largest shareholders regarding the pay policy. It also acknowledged the fact that a substantial portion of investors did not favour the same, the report added.
AstraZeneca, a British-Swedish pharmaceutical company, is one of the first to develop and release a vaccine against coronavirus in the market. This vaccine is one of the three approved by Indian regulators for use in the nation's vaccination programme. The jab is being manufactured in India by Serum Institute of India and is being marketed under the brand name Covishield.
AstraZeneca has said that it will not earn profits from its COVID vaccine as long the COVID-19 pandemic lasts.