April 30 (Reuters) - Shareholder advisory firm Glass Lewis has reversed its original recommendation for a vote against Occidental Petroleum Corp Executive Chairman Ray Irani after the company clarified its plans for Chief Executive Steve Chazen.
Occidental, the fourth-largest U.S. oil company, had been forced earlier in the month to deny there was a “fight at the top” between the two long-serving executives.
Glass Lewis had originally been concerned that the continued presence of 78-year-old Irani on the board as chairman would prevent Occidental from finding a replacement for Chazen, 66. But with Chazen, like Irani, now set to stay on until the end of 2014, that was no longer relevant, Glass Lewis said.
On Monday, Occidental announced its plan for Chazen to say on as CEO, as well as changes to its governance and compensation programs.
“Nevertheless, we believe shareholders should closely monitor the application of these policies, specifically as they may pertain to Mr. Irani,” Glass Lewis said in an update on Tuesday to its previous recommendations for Occidental shareholders.
But Glass Lewis also said shareholders should still vote no in an advisory vote on the company’s executive compensation, despite changes that include cutting the CEO’s bonus to “no more than 20 percent” from 40 percent, and cutting the annual common stock grant to non-employee directors by at least 20 percent.
Late on Monday, investor advisory firm ISS reaffirmed its recommendation to vote against Irani for the board but recommended a vote for the company’s executive compensation plan, calling the new policies a move in a “positive direction.”