Verizon Shareholders May Get 'Say on Pay'
By Kaja Whitehouse and Christopher Hinton
The Wall Street Journal
Friday, May 4, 2007
Shareholder support for a proposal asking to give Verizon
Communications Inc. investors an advisory vote on executive pay
was too close to call, raising the prospect that Verizon might
be the first company where the say-on-pay effort has been
The result of the vote at Verizon's annual shareholder meeting
will be determined after further tabulation, which may take
about a week, the New York telecommunications company said. A
preliminary tally showed a tie of 49% "for" and 49% "against"
the proposal, said the Association of BellTel Retirees, a
Verizon retirees group.
The proposal, put forward by C. William Jones, president of the
retirees group, asked that investors be given a nonbinding vote
on executive pay. This type of proposal -- which has become a
pet issue for activist shareholders and some legislators -- has
fallen short of receiving a majority of support at other
companies, including Bank of New York Co. and Morgan Stanley.
Dozens of firms have been targeted with these proposals this
year, up from just a handful when the idea was tested in 2006.
Highlighting this issue, the House passed a bill to formalize
this tactic at public companies. In February,
supplemental-insurance firm Aflac Inc. became the first to
announce adoption of this change, saying it will give investors
a nonbinding vote starting in 2009.
Verizon's compensation practices were a target at the annual
meeting, with several proposals asking the company to make
changes to its pay practices and a campaign to withhold votes
for directors because of what some shareholders said was a
disconnect between chief executive pay and performance.
Last year, Verizon CEO Ivan Seidenberg's total compensation was
$21.3 million, according to the company's proxy.
Write to Kaja Whitehouse at
email@example.com and Christopher Hinton at