Shareholders reduce support for Microsoft CEO

SEATTLE Thu Nov 17, 2011 6:11pm EST

Microsoft Chief Executive Steve Ballmer attends Microsoft's annual shareholder meeting at Meydenbauer Center in Bellevue, Washington November 15, 2011. REUTERS/Anthony Bolante

Microsoft Chief Executive Steve Ballmer attends Microsoft's annual shareholder meeting at Meydenbauer Center in Bellevue, Washington November 15, 2011.

Credit: Reuters/Anthony Bolante

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SEATTLE (Reuters) - Microsoft Corp Chief Executive is slightly less popular with shareholders than he was last year, despite notching record profits in the past 12 months.

Steve Ballmer, who heads the world's biggest software company, was backed by shareholders representing 92 percent of shares in this year's annual board election, according to results released on Thursday. Last year he scored almost 95 percent backing.

His fellow directors, including Chairman Bill Gates, were all re-elected with more than 99 percent support.

Microsoft posted its biggest ever profit last fiscal year, but some shareholders have reservations about Ballmer, especially his ability to lead Microsoft into the mobile computing era. He took over from Gates as CEO in 2000.

Some shareholders complained at this week's annual meeting that they did not get enough time to quiz Ballmer and Gates.

In May, influential hedge fund investor David Einhorn, who recently increased his stake in the company, said he liked the company's prospects but felt it was time for Ballmer to step down. Microsoft did not respond publicly to his criticism.

In this year's board election, almost 5.4 billion shares were voted for Ballmer, while 468 million were voted against and almost 14 million abstained.

(Reporting by Bill Rigby)

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