Norway’s sovereign wealth fund known as the Oil Fund has followed through on its decision to start using its clout, as a shareholder in major companies around the world, to oppose huge executive pay packages. Newspaper Dagens Næringsliv (DN) reported that it was part of voting down bonus packages last week, for example, for the bosses of Deutsche Bank in Germany.
Oil Fund boss Yngve Slyngstad has warned that he intends to boost the campaign against excessive executive pay. That’s what happened on Thursday, when the board of Deutsche Bank had proposed pay packages with large bonus prospects for top management.
More than every second shareholder in the bank ended up voting against the proposal including the Oil Fund, according to its own statistics. The fund did vote in favour of other proposals presented at Deutsche Bank’s annual shareholders’ meeting.
“We voted against the proposal because we had objections to the structure of the pay packages for the company’s management,” Marthe Skaar, spokesman for Norges Bank Investment Management (NBIM), which runs the Oil Fund, told DN. “We didn’t think the pay system matched pay and performance in a good manner.” It would have, for example, given Deutsche Bank’s own investment chief Jeffrey Urwin total pay of around EUR 13.2 million a year, equivalent to NOK 123 million. In Norway, executives rarely earn more than a tenth of that.
Skaar told DN that NBIM had discussions with Deutsche Bank about the pay issue before the annual meeting was held. With Norway’s Oil Fund now ranking as one of the biggest investors in the world, companies and their boards and management often listen when Oil Fund boss Yngve Slyngstad expresses an opinion.