The California State Teachers’ Retirement System, the second-largest U.S. public pension fund, opposed Walt Disney Co. (DIS)’s executive-pay plan and the decision to combine the roles of chairman and chief executive officer.
Keeping the top jobs separate is in the best interest of the company and shareholders, Calstrs Director of Corporate Governance Anne Sheehan said in a statement today. The media company’s performance is disconnected from its pay practices, the West Sacramento, California-based pension fund said.
Calstrs’s opposition put it among 43 percent of holders that voted against the compensation package, based on a preliminary count supplied by Burbank, California-based Disney. Investors approved all 10 nominees at yesterday’s annual meeting, including CEO Robert Iger, who also became chairman. He was re-elected with 97 percent approval, the company said.
Calstrs, with $149 billion in assets, is second to the California Public Employees’ Retirement System among U.S. pension funds. The teachers’ fund holds about 5 million Disney shares, worth $191 million, its statement said.
No board nominees got less than 73 percent support from shareholders, the company said yesterday.
Calpers supported all Disney nominees and its pay plan, according to Wayne Davis, a spokesman. The fund owns 5.7 million shares, said Brad Pacheco, another spokesman.
Disney, the world’s biggest theme-park operator and owner of Pixar, ABC and ESPN, hasn’t had a single person with both titles since 2004, when then-CEO Michael Eisner gave up the chairman position under pressure from shareholders.
Iger received $33.4 million in total compensation last year, according to company filings.
Six percent of Standard & Poor’s 500 companies garnered less than 60 percent support for executive-pay plans last year, according to Say-on-Pay.com, a website about shareholder issues.
Executive pay is “entirely in line with” peers including CBS Corp. (CBS) and Comcast Corp., Disney said in a March 1 filing. Naming Iger chairman will “enable a healthy mentoring process” for succession, the company said.
Disney lost 1.2 percent to $43.48 at the close in New York today. The shares have gained 16 percent this year.
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