By Margie Mannin - Amid the record number of proxy votes cast by the State Board of Administration of Florida at corporate shareholder meetings this year, three votes stand out.
The SBA, which manages the assets of the Florida Retirement System and other funds, said no on advisory votes on executive pay at three of the biggest public companies in Tampa Bay.
Failure to closely tie pay to performance was the reason behind the no votes atBloomin’ Brands Inc. (NASDAQ: BLMN) and at Roper Industries Inc. (NYSE: ROP), said Jacob Williams, corporate governance manager.
Proxy firms Farient Advisors and Glass Lewis “highlighted excessive levels of pay relative to their peers and to their performance levels” at Roper, a Sarasota-based industrial firm, Williams said. Performance was not bad, but pay wasn’t linked to it, he said.
Brian Jellison, who is chairman, president and CEO at Roper, was the highest-paid CEO in Tampa Bay in 2013, according to the Tampa Bay Business Journal List, with $21.4 million in total compensation last year.
Discretionary compensation payouts that were not incentive-based were the issue at Bloomin’ Brands, Williams said. He cited an “excessive” sign-on bonus for a new hire. The TBBJ previously reported thatStephen Judge received a $1 million signing bonus when he was hired as president of Bonefish Grill.
The third no vote was at TECO Energy Inc. (NYSE: TE). While the company has relative performance metrics and cut some incentive award payouts in recent years due to underperformance, there were some goals related to the CEO’s short-term performance that were lowered while potential payouts were raised, causing concern for the SBA, Williams said.
Despite the SBA opposition, shareholders endorsed the pay plans at all three firms.
The SBA considers executive compensation votes on a case-by-case basis, a statement said. In this, the fourth year of say-on-pay votes by shareholders, the SBA voted yes for 77.7 percent at the U.S. companies in which it holds shares.
Overall, the SBA cast votes at more than 9,500 public companies, voting more than 10,000 proxies and 92,000 individual ballot items.
This year, for the first time, votes on sustainable business practice issues, including environmental disclosures, surpassed governance topics, the SBA said.
© 2014 American City Business Journals.