33 out of the 100 largest Swiss listed companies will implement an advisory vote of the remuneration report or system at their 2011 annual general meeting. In 2010, only twenty companies conducted such a vote. This progression is due in particular to the efforts of Ethos Foundation and shows the companies' self-regulation effort. More progress is however needed to meet the expectations of institutional shareholders and avoid the introduction of new regulations.
Ethos published today its 2009 study on the executive remuneration at the 49 largest Swiss listed companies. Aggregate remuneration increased by 21%. The increase is particularly high in the financial sector (+73% on 2008). In addition, several companies run incentive plans whereby initial grants have substantial upward potential.
Many shareowners have expressed their disagreement with the executive remuneration system of Credit Suisse Group. During today's general meeting, the remuneration report was subject to intense criticism: 66% for, 29% oppose, 5% abstention. These results indicate that investors do not back excessive remuneration.
UBS Annual General Meeting: Ethos opposes the remuneration report, the discharge of the Board of Directors and the election of Wolfgang Mayrhuber
Ethos cannot approve the remuneration report of UBS at the 14 April 2010 General Meeting, given important shortcomings of the remuneration system which was approved by the shareholders in 2009, but which the Board subsequently modified. In addition, Ethos recommends that shareholders oppose the discharge of the board members and executive management who are responsible for the bank's enormous losses over the past few years.
Ethos commends the decision by Novartis to separate the positions of Chairman of the Board and CEO. Moreover, Novartis has accepted to put its remuneration system to the vote of the shareholders. The two decisions meet Ethos' demands and the expectations of institutional investors. Consequently, Ethos has decided to withdraw its “Stop Chairman-CEO” and “Say on Pay” resolutions from the agenda of the General Meeting of 26 February 2010.
In September 2009, Ethos and eight Swiss pension funds* filed a Say on Pay resolution requesting Zurich Financial Services, Swiss Re, Holcim and for the second time Novartis to submit their remuneration report to an advisory vote of the shareholders.
The “Say on Pay” shareholder resolutions placed by Ethos and eight Swiss public pension funds on the agenda of the general meetings of the five largest Swiss listed companies bore fruit. Four amongst the targeted companies (ABB, Credit Suisse Group, Nestlé and UBS) accepted to submit the executive remuneration to the shareholder vote, allowing Ethos to withdraw the resolution.
Ethos commends the decision of UBS' Board to submit its new remuneration system to the vote of the shareowners at the Annual General Meeting of 15 April 2009. However, the new structure of remuneration does not cap variable remuneration in terms of base salary.
At the Novartis annual general meeting, 31% of the shareowners supported the «Say on Pay» resolution submitted by Ethos and eight Swiss pension funds, requesting an advisory vote of the remuneration report. This result is a strong signal of the shareholders' will to obtain more rights in setting executive remuneration.
Ethos Publishes its Proxy Voting Analysis for Novartis’ General Meeting and Calls Shareholders to Support its « Say on Pay » Resolution
Ethos published its detailed analysis and voting recommendations for the annual general meeting of Novartis to be held on 24 February 2009. In particular, under point 5.1 of the agenda, Ethos calls the shareowners to actively support its resolution requesting an advisory vote of the remuneration report.