There has been an increase in votes against remunerations reports for the ASX 200 in 2015 according to the Australian Council of Superannuation Investors (ACSI).

The companies with the highest votes against were Spark Infrastructure (24.7 per cent), Technology One (24.3 per cent) and Santos (23.4 per cent), all of which were close to the strike threshold of 25 per cent.

Louise Davidson, chief executive of ACSI, said some other well-known companies that were voted against include Scentre Group (which was formed last year in the restructure of Westfield), CIMIC Group (formerly Leighton Holdings) and QBE Insurance.

Average vote 'against' ASX200 remuneration reports
Source: ACSI

In contrast to the trend of the past four years the first half of 2015 saw investors voting down remuneration reports in the small voting season.

Davidson said she was surprised at the shift: “Over the past few years there’s been a gradual reduction in votes against remuneration reports based on the fact remuneration arrangements have improved since companies started engaging on it.”

“It will be interesting to see in the big season whether that maintains,” Davidson added.

While ACSI does not publicly discuss its recommendations on individual companies, as it finds it has greater success on issues by conducting engagement in privacy, it does lay out themes which it considers to be poor practice in remuneration:

 

  • poor alignment between bonus outcomes and the shareholder experience;
  • increases in fixed pay and bonus potential without sufficient justification; and
  • poor disclosure of performance hurdles in incentive plans.

 

ACSI currently has 29 Australian superannuation fund members, who collectively manage over $400 billion in assets, and six international members.

It is undertaking research into chief executive pay and is due to release the findings in late September/early October.

 

Company ASX Index Against (%)*
Spark Infrastructure Group 100 24.7%
Technology One Limited 200 24.3%
Santos Limited 100 23.4%
InvoCare Limited 200 21.7%
Henderson Group 100 14.6%
Scentre Group 100 13.7%
Macquarie Atlas Roads Group 200 12.2%
APN News & Media Limited 200 12.1%
CIMIC Group Ltd 100 11.7%
QBE Insurance Group Limited 100 10.1%

 

*Excludes abstentions; poll results where disclosed, otherwise proxy votes are used.

 

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