May 9, 2018 / 4:04 AM / 2 months ago

AIG shareholders set to vote on pay package for new CEO

NEW YORK, May 9 (Reuters) - American International Group Inc faces an uphill climb to convince shareholders to approve a $43.1 million pay package for Chief Executive Officer Brian Duperreault during the company’s annual meeting on Wednesday.

Two influential proxy advisory firms, International Shareholder Services (ISS) and Glass Lewis, have advised shareholders to reject the package in the non-binding vote, saying it did not align with AIG’s performance.

AIG’s stock has dropped 13 percent since Duperreault took charge of the company last May.

The company’s pay arrangements include $24.2 million for former CEO Peter Hancock, who stepped down last year under pressure, with a $5 million cash award “for his service through the transition” to Duperreault, according to the company’s annual proxy filing to the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission in March.

It is unusual for both advisory firms to recommend voting against pay measures for the same company. ISS recommends votes against pay only about 12 percent of the time for companies listed on the broad-based Russell 3000 stock index, an ISS spokesman said.

That could sway shareholders, corporate governance experts said.

“It seems that investors do react to these recommendations,” Jill Brown, a management professor at Waltham, Massachusetts-based Bentley University, said in an email.

Brown pointed to a March non-binding vote by Walt Disney Co shareholders, who rejected a $48.5 million executive compensation plan for Chief Executive Officer Bob Iger by a 52 percent majority.

Both proxy advisory firms had advised against Iger’s package.

GRADED ‘F’

Glass Lewis gave AIG’s package a letter grade of “F.”

“Overall, the company paid significantly more than its peers, but performed significantly worse than its peers,” the report said.

ISS said one-time awards to Duperreault when he joined the company, including a $12 million cash bonus, were not tied to performance.

AIG declined to comment on the proxy recommendations.

AIG’s board compensation committee “believes this award properly motivates Mr. Duperreault to create sustainable, profitable growth for AIG, aligning his interests with those of our shareholders,” the proxy filing states.

Some investors have previously said they would approve of Duperreault’s pay so long as he performs.

Duperreault has vowed to help the company expand and boost revenue. He has been working to improve underwriting practices, increase AIG’s focus on technology and install new executives across the insurer to jumpstart profits.

AIG is also preparing to finalize its acquisition of reinsurer Validus Holdings Ltd.

But his steps have yet to boost the bottom line.

In March, AIG said it paid Duperreault $43.1 million last year, according to the proxy filing. Excluding one-time components, Duperreault earned $14.9 million.

That figure was similar to the $15.3 million paid to MetLife Inc CEO and Chairman Steven Kandarian in 2016, and less than the $27.1 million paid in 2017 to John Strangfeld, chairman and CEO of Prudential Financial Inc, according to proxy filings by those companies.

AIG shares have closed as high as $66.06 on Aug. 3, compared with $61.82 on the first trading day following his mid-May appointment.

The stock ended down 0.4 percent on Tuesday at $53.08. (Reporting by Suzanne Barlyn in New York; additional reporting by Ross Kerber in Boston; editing by Bernadette Baum)

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