AT&T Inc. (T:US) investors defeated proposals to separate the chairman and chief executive officer roles and honor so-called net-neutrality guidelines on the phone company’s wireless network.
The vote on splitting chairman and CEO duties was decided by a margin of about 56 percent to 44 percent, showing dissatisfaction among a large block of shareholders at AT&T’s annual meeting in Salt Lake City. The net-neutrality proposal, which sought to ensure that Internet traffic is treated equally on wireless networks, was defeated by a larger margin, 94-6.
Backers of the measure for an independent chairman sought to increase the board’s ability to rein in CEO Randall Stephenson. They cited his “excessive” compensation, which amounted to $28 million in total realized pay in 2011, according to the Corporate Library. AT&T’s board recommended voting against the proposal, saying that the company had a lead independent director and that the CEO-chairman link helped bridge the gap between the board and management.
An initiative asking AT&T to issue a semiannual report on political contributions also was defeated, by a margin of about 61-39. AT&T’s executive pay passed 93-7, the Dallas-based company said in a statement.
Supporters of the net-neutrality proposal said the vote was still high enough to assure that it would be placed on the ballot again next year. Similar initiatives are planned for the Verizon Communications Inc. (VZ:US) and Sprint Nextel Corp. (S:US) shareholder meetings.
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