The world’s largest sovereign wealth fund is voting against Apple’s compensation policies, including $99 million in salaries and bonuses for CEO Tim Cook, part of a growing backlash from shareholders against the tech giant’s compensation.
The $1.3 trillion Norwegian oil fund said Sunday it would vote against the world’s most valuable company on pay, along with shareholder proposals on transparency, forced labor, a civil rights review and sustainability disclosures, according to its voting intent, the five Days before Apple filed annual meeting.
The oil fund, which owned 1 percent of Apple as of December 31, 2020, justified its decision by saying that a significant portion of annual salary should be provided in shares locked for five to 10 years and that the board “should provide transparency about total compensation to avoid unacceptable outcomes”.
The move of the oil fund follows a recommendation by Institutional Shareholder Services, the influential voting rights group, to also vote against Apple’s compensation policy.
In a letter provided to the Financial Times, ISS said there were “significant concerns” about the stock bonus Cook received last year, the first received by the Apple CEO since 2011. ISS last recommended Apple’s salary in 2015.
Cook in 2021 received stock awards worth $82 million at the time of grant, in addition to a $12 million cash bonus and $3 million in salary. His pay package also included $630,630 in personal security expenses and $712,488 for personal use of a private jet — perks that ISS said have “significantly outperformed” comparable companies over the past year — bringing Cook’s total for 2021 to 98, Raised $7 million.
The Norwegian oil fund aims to increase activity on environmental, social and governance issues and is the first major asset manager to disclose its voting intentions for all companies ahead of their annual meetings.
Nicolai Tangen, the former hedge fund manager who now runs the oil fund, has identified ESG as one of the key ways for the Norwegian investor to beat its benchmark, even as he fears its returns will be lackluster over the next decade. He warned last month that investors will face years of low returns as rising inflation becomes a permanent feature of the global economy.
Shareholder votes on Apple’s Executive Packages are advisory only and do not require board action. Around 95 percent of the votes cast last year went in favor of Apple. But a major protest this year could sway the board, nine years after the last major backlash over Cook’s salary.
Apple was not immediately available for comment.
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