The vote centers on the some $20 million in compensation received by Verizon chief executive Ivan Seidenberg. The 100,000-strong Association of BellTel Retirees promoted the vote, which has become a focus of campaigns by stockholders who maintain that pay practices at some firms compensate top executives for lackluster financial results.
"The preliminary results for the proposal on an advisory vote on senior executive compensation are too close to determine whether he proposal passed of was defeated," Verizon stated. "The outcome will be determined by the final tabulation."
According to media reports, the Verizon vote is the first close vote of the so-called "say nay on pay" proxy measures that seek to give stockholders a stronger voice on executive compensation packages. The vote was initially deadlocked, with the pros and cons each receiving about 49% of the votes cast.
The "say nay on pay" movement picked up momentum when Home Depot's Robert Nardelli this year hauled down a $210 million retirement package for uninspiring financial results.
In another example of big executive pay, retiring AT&T chief executive Edward Whitacre Jr. is scheduled to receive a pension package worth $158 million, according to an analysis reported last week by the Wall Street Journal. Whitacre, however, was not targeted by stockholder groups, which noted that AT&T stock rose during his reign.
Seidenberg's pay package isn't particularly high in an era of confiscatory executive compensation that many critics say has overtones of looting. Proxy advisory firm Institutional Shareholder Services said Seidenberg's $20 million-plus package is not "excessively out of line with the peer companies."
Other proposals promoted at the Verizon meeting by stockholder activists were defeated, including one sought by the AFL-CIO to unseat some members of Verizon's executive compensation committee.