Telstra shareholders have unequivocally voted in favour of the remuneration packages currently awarded to its top executives.
Despite a day which saw several shareholders attack Telstra's chairwoman, Catherine Livingstone and its chief David Thodey at the telco's annual general meeting (AGM)over billing woes and the performance of Telstra shares, shareholders have supported executive remuneration levels.
Each year shareholders vote for or against the salary as well as long and short term incentives Telstra offers its top executives. The remuneration report is included within Telstra's annual report.
Shareholders voted overwhelmingly for the remuneration report with 95.88 per cent in favour and 4.12 per cent against.
The "yes" vote was a marked difference to the outcome of the vote in 2007, which saw just 33.82 per cent endorse executives pay levels. Last year 95.89 per cent had voted for that year's remuneration levels.
This year's near unanimous vote came despite outrage over former Telstra chief Sol Trujillo pocketing a $3.7 million in "termination benefits" last financial year.
Michael Perry of the Australian Shareholders' Association told Livingstone that Trujillo's remuneration was "excessively generous in both terms and quantum". Livingstone defended the pay out on the grounds it had been negotiated as part of Trujillo's contract. "Whilst it was to the letter of the contract, it was simply far too much," Perry said. "I would like you to take that on board."
A $1 million bonus awarded to group managing director (MD) of Telstra Networks and Services Michael Rocca was also criticised by a shareholder at today's AGM. Livingstone defended that decision on the departure of Trujillo ring-in, former chief operating officer, Greg Winn, who left Telstra earlier this year. Winn's departure came during the final stages of Telstra's $5 billion technology transformation, which meant Telstra needed to pay a retainer to Rocca.
Shareholders also voted on the appointments of three new directors. Former MD of Microsoft Australia Steve Vamos was voted in, along with Telstra's chief financial officer, John Stanhope.
The outgoing board member and chair of Telstra's remuneration committee Charles Macek was today congratulated by Livingstone for aligning Telstra executives' pay to the company's financial performance.