THE EVENT: Shareholder anger has erupted in the European financial services sector, with investors expressing increasing resistance to what they consider excessive executive pay packages. Votes against remuneration packages have increased steadily, leading to the 54% rejection May 3 of U.K. insurer Aviva PLC's (AV.LN) salary structure. The votes, which in the past had been rubber-stamping of corporate pay policies, are non-binding. But high levels of opposition are humiliating rebukes for the companies involved and many have apologized for not taking shareholders' views on board.
--Here is a look at some key annual meeting votes and some upcoming AGMs.
*Prudential PLC (PRU.LN) May 17
Remuneration vote opposition: 30%
Notes: The non-binding vote, which contrasts with the 91% approval last year, comes after the company last year paid GBP7.6 million to Michael McLintock, chief executive of Prudential's asset management arm M&G Investments. It also comes after shareholder advisory group ISS earlier this month told Prudential shareholders to reject the remuneration report.
*Lloyds Banking Group PLC (LYG) May 17
Remuneration vote opposition: 3%
Notes: The vote against pay at the U.K. bank that is 40%-owned by the government was below the 8% who voted against the remuneration packages awarded to Lloyds' directors last year. Chief Executive Antonio Horta-Osorio waived his bonus, which could have come to GBP2.4 million, after taking several weeks off to recover from exhaustion. Chairman Winfried Bischoff said that pay across the bank was "substantially lower than at any other bank" and long-term incentive plans haven't been paid out over the last four years.
*Standard Chartered PLC (STAN.LN) May 9
Remuneration vote opposition: 7.44%
Notes: The vote against pay at the Asia-focused bank was below the 7.8% who voted against the remuneration packages awarded to Standard Chartered's directors at the previous year's annual meeting, highlighting how the finance industry's stronger performers are avoiding scrutiny from investors irate over pay.
*Aviva PLC (AV.LN) May 3
Remuneration vote opposition: 54%.
Notes: Investors in the U.K. insurer rejected the pay report, only the fourth time that has happened to a FTSE 100 company. Shareholders opposed the 2011 pay report in a non-binding vote. The humiliating rebuke came even after Aviva said earlier in the week that it would review its pay policy in the face of shareholder pressure.
*UBS AG (UBS) May 3
Remuneration vote opposition: 36%.
Notes: In addition to the "no" vote in the non-binding poll, a proposed capital increase to finance bonuses failed to win sufficient votes. The proposal was backed by 62% of shareholders, below the 66% necessary for it to pass.
*Henderson Group PLC (HGI.LN) May 2
Remuneration vote opposition: 17.6%
Notes: Executives faced criticism over pay before shareholders voted on packages awarded to directors for 2011. The vote came on the day the company reported that a net GBP857 million had been withdrawn from its funds.
*Man Group PLC (EMG.LN) May 1
Remuneration vote opposition: About 15%.
Note: The listed hedge-fund manager's executives came under pressure from some disgruntled individual shareholders demanding action to reverse the asset manager's plummeting share price, but institutional investors continued to support current management, according to official ballots, which gave the CEO a 99% vote.
*Credit Suisse Group AG (CS) April 29
Remuneration vote opposition: 32%.
Notes: Credit Suisse CEO Brady Dougan faced unhappy shareholders despite seeing his total compensation more than halved to CHF5.8 million from CHF12.8 million the prior year. Like all of Credit Suisse's top managers, Dougan didn't get a cash bonus.
*Barclays PLC (BCS) April 29
Remuneration vote opposition: 27%.
Notes: Barclays Chairman Marcus Agius apologized for the bank's handling of the remuneration policy, and another director vowed to overhaul the bank's compensation practices. Alison Carnwath, the chair of Barclays' compensation committee, received about 21% opposition in her re-election vote. Much of the vocal shareholder anger at the AGM was directed at famed CEO Bob Diamond, who collected GBP6.3 million in total 2011 compensation.
*Alliance Trust PLC (ATST.LN) April 27
Remuneration vote opposition: 10.77%
Shareholders defeated a proposal by activist investor Laxey Partners that suggested the company should consider outsourcing management to boost returns and narrow the discount at which its shares trade to their net asset value.
--Other key upcoming AGMs
*HSBC Holdings PLC (HBC): May 25
*Royal Bank of Scotland Group PLC (RBS): May 30
(Dates subject to change.)