NY fund trustee to continue push for exec-pay clawbacks at Abbott

Abbott Laboratories CEO Miles White

While other Big Pharma companies may have settled on clawback provisions for executive pay, hoping to inspire top management to toe the compliance line, a similar shareholder resolution at Abbott Laboratories ($ABT) failed. But the New York State Comptroller, which was behind the push at Abbott, says he'll keep pushing, the Associated Press reports.

The state's pension fund is an Abbott shareholder, and as such got a clawback resolution on the ballot. It would have linked executive pay and bonuses to compliance penalties. If the company paid for breaking the rules, then executives could lose money. It might have applied last year, when Abbott agreed to pay $1.5 billion to settle a Justice Department investigation into its Depakote marketing.

Abbott CEO Miles White has been among the top-ranking executives on FiercePharma's annual list of the highest-paid in pharma.

Abbott's directors opposed the resolution, and it failed at the shareholder vote, with only 39% support, the AP reports. Still, that was almost 5 percentage points better than last year's vote, and Comptroller Thomas DiNapoli says he'll try again.

He might try teaming up with other institutional investors, if he hasn't already. Other companies with highly paid CEOs--including Bristol-Myers Squibb ($BMY), Eli Lilly ($LLY), and Merck ($MRK)--met earlier this year with institutional investors to hammer out new policies that would punish executives who behave unethically. Those new policies were approved at the companies' latest annual meetings.

Last we heard, Johnson & Johnson ($JNJ) had also agreed in principle to the clawback idea, if not to details of a specific plan. Pfizer ($PFE) also participated in the talks, but there's no word yet on whether changes are to come.

- see the AP story

Special Reports: 20 Highest-Paid Biopharma CEOs | Miles White - Abbott Labs | Top Pharma Companies by 2012 Revenues

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