|photo by Darrell Sapp/Pittsburgh Post-Gazette|
From the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette: "The annual shareholders meeting for EQT Corp. was adjourned for more than an hour this morning after angry shareholders began shouting questions at chief executive officer David Porges about fair executive compensation, the ethics of its board of directors and a proposal to shorten director tenures to one year."
Responding to the angry shareholders' concerns, CEO Porges claimed that EQT's executive compensation packages were "much fairer" than the average "ratio of pay between the nation's CEOs and regular workers." Further attempting to minimize the shareholder outrage, "Mr. Porges said the disruption was part of a 'broader movement' of anti-corporation sentiment. 'I don't think the unrest had anything to do with EQT proper,' said Mr. Porges. Their concerns were tied to general industry practices like hydraulic fracturing and a frustration over what they see as outsized compensation and profit at a time when the state is cutting budgets for education and transportation."
Shareholders did succeed in passing a shareholder proposal that management opposed limiting tenures for Board members to just one year. Rarely do shareholder proposals pass, but this proposal was backed by the Ohio Public Employees Retirement System and shareholders succeeded in passing it over management's objections.
Shareholder anger may be a harbinger of things to come as both institutional investors and nominal shareholders seem to be ratcheting up the disaffect with outsized executive compensation packages and corporations that appear to be working for its executives first and its shareholders later. Will corporate leadership pay attention?