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CenturyLink Shareholders Say No to Exec Pay as Stock Continues Dropping

CenturyLink stockholders Wednesday rejected executive compensation in an advisory vote as the company’s stock fell to a 27-year low.

CenturyLink held its annual shareholders’ meeting Wednesday, and its stock sunk to $9.93 per share just after the start, the lowest since June 1992. The largely downward trend started in 2014 when shares traded for about $41.47.

CEO Jeff Storey was paid $35.7 million last year, while former CEO Glen F. Post III received $10.74 million, CFO Indraneel Dev received $2.73 million and former CFO Sunit Patel received $6.93 million, according to CenturyLink’s proxy statement filed last month.

The “say-on-pay” advisory vote on executive compensation drew two “nay” votes for every “yea.”

CenturyLink spokesman Mark Molzen tells Channel Partners “we share the frustration with our share price and appreciate the feedback we have received from our shareholders.”

CenturyLink;s Mark Molzen

CenturyLink;s Mark Molzen

“We will take that into consideration as we continue to make decisions that we believe are aligned to the creation of long-term shareholder value, including the feedback related to executive compensation,” he said.

According to the proxy statement, shareholders voted in favor of the “say-on-pay” proposal for executive compensation in 2016, 2017 and 2018. However, the percentage of yes votes has declined, from 89 percent in 2016 to 79 percent last year.

CenturyLink acknowledged the lower approval vote last year reflected some concern by shareholders about its decisions to “grant one-time awards as well as certain supplemental severance payments in connection with executive transitions in prior years.”

The compensation committee is “committed to taking the results of these votes into consideration when making executive compensation decisions,” according to the proxy statement.

CenturyLink reported a first-quarter loss of $6.17 billion, compared to a $115 million profit for the year-ago quarter. During its earnings call, Storey said the company is conducting a strategic review of its consumer business, and selling the business or spinning it off haven’t been ruled out as options.


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