In Facebook's first pay vote, tough love from an old friend
By Ross Kerber
(Reuters) - Some of Mark Zuckerberg's mutual fund backers delivered a tough message on compensation for the leaders of Facebook Inc.
Fidelity Investments, led by its $98 billion Contrafund, was among those voting against the pay of the social media company's top leaders in a nonbinding contest at its annual meeting in June, its first since going public.
Securities filings show other funds voting against the pay included Legg Mason Capital Management Value Trust and Franklin Resources' Franklin Growth Fund.
While the funds' exact objection was not spelled out, one reason could be perks. Facebook Chief Executive Zuckerberg was paid $1.99 million in 2012, according to its proxy filing, much less than other executives, like Chief Operating Officer Sheryl Sandberg, who received $26.2 million.
Yet ISS, the influential proxy adviser to institutional shareholders, recommended votes "against" the compensation. It questioned practices such as stock awards and the $1.2 million spent on Zuckerberg's personal use of aircraft in 2012.
Although shareholders backed Facebook's executive pay by a wide margin, the ballots cast by Fidelity - Facebook's largest outside shareholder and a longtime investor - show how dynamics have changed for Facebook now that it is a publicly traded firm, said Edward Hauder, a senior adviser at Exequity LLP, a Chicago-based executive compensation consulting firm.
Mutual fund managers, like Contrafund's William Danoff, may remain fans of the social media darling as an investment. But fund votes are generally controlled by separate departments that bring a cold policy analysis to proxy voting.
"It's just business," said Hauder. Continued...