Connected Research

Union policy research in the 21st century

A word in your Shell-like…

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Extraordinarily, in two meetings held simultaneously in London and The Hague, Shell shareholders have voted down the company’s remuneration report: just less than 60% of shareholder votes (around 1.9bn) rejected the company’s remuneration report on the basis that it gave bonuses on a ‘discretionary’ basis to directors despite missing performance targets. The Guardian‘s report also comments that there were other shareholder rebellions elsewhere today on the issue of executive remuneration and that the Shell one – while the largest – was not even a recent precedent.

Well, good on yer!

At the same time, we might wonder why such shareholder rebellions, and shareholder activism in general, are so rare (not least when the large part of shareholder institutions are pension funds representing you and me). Perhaps one of the good things that will eventually come out of the drawn-out furore over MPs expenses is that we can – and should – hold people in positions of authority to account more often than we do. I look forward to this happening on a much more regular basis – and carrying some meaning when it does. Though I won’t be holding my breath.

Shell said that it took the vote seriously and would be meeting its shareholders further. What will transpire there is anyone’s guess. In the meantime, Shell executives, who don’t have to return the money despite the shareholders’ rejection of the report, since the vote is advisory only, are clearly in something of a bind as a result and were, no doubt, last heard having muttered conversations with their lawyers…

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Written by Calvin

20/05/2009 at 5:16 pm

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