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Verizon Investors Demand 'Say-On-Pay' Policy

Reuters
Friday, 19 Oct 2007 | 4:01 PM ET

Institutional investors sent a letter to Verizon Communications, urging the phone company to give shareholders more say over the pay packages of executives.

Verizon shares on Friday lost 73 cents, or 1.62 percent, at $44.24 on the New York Stock Exchange.

In May, shareholders narrowly voted in favor of asking Verizon to adopt a policy that would give shareholders an annual vote on senior executives' compensation packages.

"More than half of the people who you represent on the board of directors sent you a message that we want more transparency and accountability in executive pay at our company," the investors said in the letter, dated Oct. 17.

"As institutional investors, we are concerned by the disconnect between executive pay and corporate performance at Verizon and other public companies."

The letter was signed by the North Carolina state treasurer, Connecticut deputy treasurer, the New York State Teachers' Retirement System, the City of Cincinnati Retirement System, Walden Asset Management, Marianist Province of the United States, and Boston Common Asset Management.

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In the letter, the investors said Verizon creates the appearance that its pay practices reward performance.

"If you truly intend executive pay to reward superior performance, serious adjustments to Verizon's pay practices are in order," the letter said.

The Australian Council of Superannuation Investors, an association of pension funds, also sent Verizon a letter asking it to implement a shareholder vote on executive pay.

A spokesman for Verizon said the board continues to evaluate the "say on pay" issue and has not made a decision yet.

"We appreciate receiving the letter as part of the ongoing dialogue we have with shareholders," said Bob Varettoni.

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