Risk & Compliance

Pfizer Board Survives Protest Vote

Shareholder anger over CEO's $83 million retirement package not enough to dislodge any directors.
Stephen TaubApril 27, 2006

In a much-followed vote, shareholders Thursday rejected recommendations by two proxy advisory firms that they withhold votes for outside directors at Pfizer. The recommendations were made in response to the board’s approval of a retirement package for its chief executive officer that has been valued at as much as $83 million.

All 13 of the company’s directors stood for and were re-elected to one-year terms and no board member received less than 78 percent of the vote for retention, according to the Associated Press.

Two proxy advisory firms — Institutional Shareholder Services and Glass, Lewis — had called for the removal of several — but different — board members. Those calls came after the release of a proxy describing the package that Pfizer chairman and chief executive Hank McKinnell will receive if he retires in 2008 at the age of 65.

“We feel he should give back half of that; it’s pay for failure,” said Dan Pedrotty, of the AFL-CIO, according to the AP. “There’s a huge element of hypocrisy here.”

Shareholders also approved a management proposal to amend Pfizer’s charter to eliminate the supermajority vote requirements.