From Institutional Shareholder Services:
Submitted by: L. Reed Walton, Staff Writer
After the passage of the "Shareholder Vote on Executive Compensation Act" by the U.S. House of Representatives, Senate Democrats are making it known that they, too, want shareholders to have a vote on executive pay.
A bill seeking to amend the Securities and Exchange Act of 1934 to give shareholders at public companies an advisory vote on executive compensation--or "say on pay"--was introduced April 20 in the U.S. Senate as a companion to the House bill approved the same day. The House legislation passed by a vote of 269-134, indicating that it got some Republican support.
Senate Bill 1811, which was introduced by Sen. Barack Obama of Illinois, proposes an annual vote on the executive compensation disclosed in proxy statements under the new Securities and Exchange Commission's standards. Companies would be required to allow a non-binding vote on the compensation disclosure and analysis (CD&A), summary compensation tables, and related material, starting in 2009.
Like the House measure, the Senate bill would give shareholders the opportunity to vote on any severance agreements that are reached while a company is considering a takeover offer or merger.
S. 1811 has been referred to the Senate Committee on Banking, Housing, and Urban Affairs, and has attracted co-sponsorships from at least four of Obama's fellow Democrats, including Sen. Sherrod Brown of Ohio, Sen. Tom Harkin of Iowa, Sen. John Kerry of Massachusetts, and Sen. Richard Durbin, also of Illinois.
In his invitation to co-sponsors on April 24, Obama wrote, "It's time that we not only make executive compensation packages more transparent, but that we also allow shareholders to express and debate their views on those packages."
The Bush administration has expressed opposition to the House legislation, saying it "does not believe that Congress should mandate the process by which executive compensation is approved."