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Shell Faces Opposition on CEO’s 'Excessive' Bonus Pay

May 17, 2016
Ben Van Beurden's bonus increased 6.1% last year to 3.5 million euros, as falling crude prices drove down oil companies' earnings.

Two shareholder-advisory firms recommended investors vote against the Royal Dutch Shell Plc Chief Executive Officer Ben Van Beurden’s pay, saying his bonus is “excessive.” A third adviser said shareholders should give “qualified support.”

Van Beurden’s annual bonus, equivalent to 245% of his salary last year, was not acceptable, Pensions & Investment Research Consultants Ltd. said in an e-mail on Tuesday. Advisory firm Glass Lewis also said shareholders should oppose the pay deal.

Brent crude prices fell 35% in 2015, driving down oil companies’ earnings. Shell, which completed the acquisition of BG Group Plc this year, suffered a 31% decline in shares and a 53% drop in adjusted net income. A majority of shareholders rejected BP Plc CEO Bob Dudley’s 20% pay increase last month in an advisory vote.

“Shell’s executive compensation reflects delivery of our strategy, measured by both short-term and long-term targets,” a company spokesman said by e-mail. “There is a clear alignment between the company’s performance and our compensation policies.”

Bonus Disconnect

Van Beurden’s salary rose 2.1% to 1.4 million euros ($1.6 million) last year and his annual bonus increased 6.1% to 3.5 million euros, according to Shell’s annual report. Total compensation, including pensions and “tax equalization,” fell 77 percent to 5.58 million euros.

“The balance of CEO realized pay with financial performance is not considered acceptable,” PIRC said. Glass Lewis said it was concerned with Shell’s “disconnect between bonus payouts and financial performance” and recommended shareholders vote against the pay.

Institutional Shareholder Services, on the other hand, recommended “qualified support for the remuneration report,” according to a May 9 statement. “There is evidence that bonus payouts for the year were consistent with performance as measured and reported.”

Shareholder votes on pay in the U.K. are advisory and not binding on the company. Shell’s annual general meeting is scheduled to take place in The Hague on May 24.

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