Actelion shareholders reject biotech firm's pay plans

Thu Apr 18, 2013 9:35am EDT

Related Topics

* 60 pct of shareholders reject compensation report

* Influential shareholder groups had recommended 'no' vote

* Swiss citizens have voted strict controls on executive pay

BASEL, April 18 (Reuters) - Actelion shareholders voted on Thursday against the biotechnology company's executive pay plan for 2012, making it the second Swiss company in as many weeks to have its compensation proposals rejected.

More than 60 percent of shareholders voted against the plan, which includes 5.2 million Swiss francs ($5.6 million) in 2012 compensation for founder and Chief Executive Jean-Paul Clozel.

Influential shareholder groups Ethos, Actares and ISS had urged shareholders to reject the pay plans, even after Actelion made changes to its compensation report. Just 55 percent of shareholders backed its remuneration proposals last year.

"We will now continue our dialogue with shareholders to really design and implement a remuneration consistent with today's environment and the needs of the company and its owners," Chairman Jean-Pierre Garnier told the meeting in Basel.

Actelion's biggest shareholders beside its managers, who hold a 10.5 percent stake in the firm, are Orbis Investment Management Limited and investor Rudolf Maag.

Anger over pay has run high in Switzerland since the government was forced to bail out bank UBS blamed on a lavish bonus culture that fuelled risky investments.

Swiss citizens voted in a referendum in March to introduce some of the world's strictest controls on executive pay. That included giving shareholders a binding vote on compensation at listed companies in future.

Last week, Julius Baer shareholders also rejected the pay plans of the Swiss private bank.

A $78 million pay-off for outgoing Novartis chairman Daniel Vasella stirred widespread outrage over corporate excess, which forced the drugmaker to scrap the payment. ($1 = 0.9312 Swiss francs) (Reporting by Paul Arnold; Writing by Caroline Copley; Editing by Tom Pfeiffer)

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