Switzerland - Credit Suisse Group AG’s efforts to avoid a shareholder revolt over compensation for top executives and directors have failed to convince at least one main opponent.
Glass Lewis & Co. continues to recommend investors reject the bank’s pay proposal for the board even after directors offered to keep their maximum compensation at 12 million francs ($12 million). Previously the bank planned to raise the ceiling to 12.5 million francs.
While the advisory group backed the bank’s offer to reduce executive bonuses by 40 percent to 17 million francs, it continues to have reservations about variable incentive pay, especially for Chief Executive Officer Tidjane Thiam.
“We believe this action is a positive response to notable shareholder discontent leading up to the annual general meeting and should generate some goodwill,” Glass Lewis said in a report emailed Tuesday. “However, we also find that this is a case of "too little too late."
“Indeed, a situation in which top executives feel obliged to volunteer to reduce their own earned awards two weeks prior to an annual meeting facing a shareholder revolt highlights the dysfunction of a compensation program and a compensation committee that fail to adequately consider shareholder interests.”
Credit Suisse has come under fire from major shareholder groups over its compensation plans for executives and directors after the bank posted a second annual loss. Swiss laws introduced in 2015 require companies listed in the country to give shareholders a binding annual vote on executive pay. The bank’s annual meeting is next week.
At 3 million francs, Thiam’s salary remains “significantly higher” than that of his predecessor, Brady Dougan, Glass Lewis said. Under the new proposals, Thiam would receive a total of 10.24 million francs, instead of the previously proposed 11.9 million francs.
Credit Suisse’s stock fell 33 percent in 2016, with market turmoil, surprise trading losses and legal cases sapping confidence in a costly turnaround plan. Charges tied to a legal settlement over its crisis-era mortgage securities business pushed the bank into another annual loss.