Motorola Stockholders Protest Exec Pay - InformationWeek

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Software // Operating Systems

Motorola Stockholders Protest Exec Pay

In a "say-on-pay" stockholder vote, Motorola stockholders demonstrated this week that they want the firm's top executives to earn their salaries.

The broad message didn't cite any executives by name, but the Motorola, which has been shrinking in recent quarters, has already received stockholder criticism over the $104 million compensation package it awarded Co-CEO Sanjay Jha in 2008. Jha was hired away from Qualcomm in a desperate attempt to save the company's once-dominant cell phone business that was slipping during former CEO Ed Zander's term as chief executive.

Jha has bet the firm's Mobile Devices and Home business on Google's Android mobile phone platform and has already achieved success with a family of new mobile phones, particularly the Droid, which is being sold by Verizon Wireless. Motorola reported that some 2.3 million Droids were sold in the first quarter.

According to media reports, much of Jha's compensation will be based on the performance of his unit going forward. In a complex compensation package, Jha received $3.8 million in 2009, but his big payday will come if he can turn around the Mobile Devices and Home unit, which is slated to be separated from Motorola's Enterprise Mobility Solutions and Networks unit next year.

Greg Brown, Co-CEO of the Enterprise Mobility Solutions and Networks unit, earned $8.5 million in 2009 and $24.2 million in 2008, according to media reports.

With just 46% of Motorola stockholders supporting the firm's compensation policies, Motorola became an unusual example of a major U.S. company failing to obtain a stockholder majority of support on an executive compensation measure.

Stockholders -- particularly Chicago area stockholders -- are likely to have another opportunity to express their pleasure or displeasure when the company splits in two next year. Jha has hinted he would consider moving his unit to California and such a move could draw protests from Chicagoland stockholders who view the company as a Chicago institution. If the breakup -- both units would carry the Motorola brand -- doesn't occur by mid-2011, Jha could stand to earn another $38 million.

Motorola, which practically invented the wireless mobile phone business, has been sinking for a decade as other companies, including Nokia, Samsung, LG Electronics,Sony-Ericsson, and Research In Motion have passed the firm's market share.

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