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Shareholders have signalled deep concern over executive pay at Credit Suisse, narrowly approving the Swiss bank’s compensation report after it proposed bumper bonuses for top executives despite large losses last year.
Credit Suisse’s compensation report was approved by just 57.98 per cent of shareholders’ votes at the bank’s annual meeting in Zurich. Some 40 per cent voted against.
That amount to a significant snub for the leadership at the bank, which is in the midst of a sweeping restructuring. It came at the end of a week in which CEO Tidjane Thiam announced a planned SFr4bn ($4bn) share sale aimed at quashing fears about the bank’s capital strength.
Credit Suisse ran into shareholder opposition after failing to take into account a $5.3bn settlement last year in the US over the past sale of toxic mortgage securities when agreeing on SFr 78m in bonuses for current top managers.The overall bonus pool was also increased by 6 per cent to SFr3.09bn – despite announcing a loss last year of SFr2.7bn following the US settlement.
Earlier this month, in a hurriedly-issued statement, Credit Suisse’s executive board they would take a 40 per cent cut to this year’s proposed short-term bonuses and in long-term incentive awards for 2017.
But the back down failed to satisfy investor advisers including Institutional Shareholder Services and Glass Lewis, as well as Switzerland’s Ethos, which recommended rejecting the compensation report. Credit Suisse’s bonuses were “simply not understandable,” said Vincent Kaufmann, chief executive of Ethos, told the meeting. “There is no corporate responsibility, no solidarity.”
The Credit Suisse upset followed a large-scale revolt earlier this week at GAM, the Swiss fund house, where angry shareholders voted overwhelmingly to reject plans for up to SFr16m of bonuses for management in 2017 as well as GAM’s compensation report.
Urs Rohner, Credit Suisse chairman, admitted today’s result was a blow and pledged to intensify consultations to “avoid a similar situation in the future”