Proxy adviser Glass Lewis recommended on Tuesday that BlackRock Inc shareholders “express their concern” regarding the world’s largest asset manager’s pay of its top executives, including CEO Larry Fink. Fink made $25.5 million in 2016, based on a calculation of his pay in line with U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission guidelines, according to a filing last month. That figure represented a 1 percent cut from the year before but remains one of the richest public company CEO pay packages in finance. BlackRock did not immediately respond to a request for comment outside normal business hours.
The company had outlined its compensation practices in a 27-page section of its proxy documents last month. Among other things, it said Fink’s leadership helped BlackRock attract $202 billion in new cash from clients last year with a growth rate above peers. He also reduced BlackRock’s own costs, including cutting some jobs, as investors moved to lower-fee funds, it said.
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BlackRock’s stock rose 11.8 percent in price terms and returned 14.6 percent last year, compared with a 2.1 percent decline in price terms for its global peers measured by Thomson Reuters. Fink is sought by political figures and corporate CEOs for his views on the markets, and is listed among “The World’s Best CEOs” by the newspaper Barron’s.
As an asset manager with $5.4 trillion under management, BlackRock is a top shareholder in many of the world’s largest companies and wields power voting on their corporate governance and compensation practices. Now it faces questions on its own practices ahead of its annual shareholder meeting on May 25 where the advisory group has recommended a vote against a non-binding proposal on the company’s executive compensation.
Fink was paid “significantly more” than a peer median, Glass Lewis said, but “performed moderately worse”, citing figures such as the company’s earnings per share growth. “The company has been deficient in aligning pay with performance,” Glass Lewis said in the report, which recommended electing the company’s full slate of board members, including Fink, its chairman and one of its founders.