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BlackRock executive pay wins only narrow support from shareholders

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LA Post: BlackRock executive pay wins only narrow support from shareholders
May 15, 2024
Ross Kerber and Davide Barbuscia - Reuters

By Ross Kerber and Davide Barbuscia

(Reuters) -Top asset manager BlackRock on Wednesday said only about 58% of advisory votes cast at its annual meeting supported the pay of its top executives.

At the meeting, which was webcast, BlackRock also said each of its 16 director nominees received well over a majority of votes cast. It said three shareholder resolutions, including a call for an independent board chair, won no more than 10% support.

Top proxy advisers had recommended votes against the pay of BlackRock's top executives including Chief Executive Larry Fink, who received $27.6 million last year. Institutional Shareholder Services said it had concerns about the process used to determine annual cash incentive awards.

Support for such "say on pay" resolutions at S&P 500 companies averages around 90%, pay consultants say.

Asked about the pay vote, BlackRock said in a statement sent by a representative that it looks forward to engaging with shareholders.

"BlackRock has a longstanding pay-for-performance culture, and our executive compensation program is based on the same metrics-driven approach that has received substantial shareholder support in prior years," the company said in the statement.

At the meeting Fink was asked whether the company should have a neutral stance on fossil fuels in light of recent disputes with Republican officials in U.S. states.

Fink said the company’s "only agenda” is to maximize returns for clients. "We have never put politics over performance, and our clients know this,” he said.

Separately, Fink said BlackRock continues to see demand for sustainable investment strategies, particularly in Europe and in private markets.

"Our role is to serve as a fiduciary for our clients ... as a result of (the) choices our clients have made, we are the largest investor in both hydrocarbons and renewables,” he said.

(Reporting by Ross Kerber in Boston and Davide Barbuscia in New York; editing by Jonathan Oatis)

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