AstraZeneca PLC (LON:AZN) is facing investor backlash after proposing to boost the performance-related bonus to its chief executive by £2.3mln.

If it goes ahead, Pascal Soriot would pocket awards of £12mln or more if the share price rises, with a total salary well over the £15.4mln he received last year.

READ: AstraZeneca posts positive final-stage trial results for lung cancer treatment

Aviva PLC (LON:AV.) and Standard Life Aberdeen PLC (LON:SLA) have voted to block the proposal ahead of Tuesday’s AGM, the Daily Mail reported.

They reportedly fear the pay raise would “tarnish” the pharma giant’s reputation after vowing to deliver COVID-19 vaccines not for a profit during the pandemic.

Shareholder advisory groups ISS, Glass Lewis and Pirc have also recommended to vote against it.

Other funds, instead, told the paper they will vote in favour, which it setting up the stage for controversy.

Over half of the shareholders will have to veto the pay hike for AstraZeneca to reconsider its policy.

“If the board feels there is a real risk of losing Pascal…and so they’ve got to up the ante, then I’m prepared to trust the board,” Richard Buxton at Jupiter Asset Management told the Mail.

“Pascal is so central to the future success of this company that to risk losing him…would be shooting my clients in the foot, because I think the shares would fall 15 to 20%.”

“This pride is now tarnished, however, by proposals to once again escalate executive pay to heights rarely seen in the UK,” said EdenTree, adding it will “vigorously oppose” the plans.

Shares in the firm were flat at 7,698p on Monday at midday.

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