By Elizabeth Dilts Marshall
NEW YORK (Reuters) – Goldman Sachs Group Inc <GS.N> said on Thursday that 71% of shareholders voted to approve the bank’s executive pay packages, according to preliminary tallies.
The vote, taken at the bank’s annual shareholder meeting, is significant, as it comes after the influential proxy adviser Institutional Shareholder Services (ISS) recommended investors cast their votes against the pay of top bank leaders earlier this month.
Early in the meeting, which was conducted by conference call online, bank director M. Michele Burns defended the board’s reasoning for executive compensation. The board awarded Chief Executive David Solomon $24.7 million for 2019, a 19.4% raise over his total 2018 pay.
“We believe David’s compensation is appropriately aligned with his peers and predecessors,” Burns said.
ISS, which said it was concerned about the increase in Solomon’s 2019 bonus, appeared to dent the number of investors who approved of the board’s pay practices. The number of shares voted in favor of executive pay this year were 20% lower than last year, when 91% of shareholders voted to approve executive pay.
The vote on pay also comes on the day that the total number of Americans filing for unemployment benefits topped 30 million, as the outbreak of the novel coronavirus has forced businesses to close to prevent further spread.
A majority of shareholders also voted to re-elect the bank’s 11 board directors. The two shareholder proposals, which would have permitted investors an additional means to take action and required increased board oversight of bank operations, were opposed by the board and failed.
(Reporting By Elizabeth Dilts Marshall; Editing by Chizu Nomiyama and Jonathan Oatis)