J&J pay plans get thumbs up from shareholders

Critics of Johnson & Johnson's executive compensation plans lost out at the company's shareholder meeting yesterday. Despite the urgings of unhappy investors who believe CEO William Weldon (photo) is overpaid, shareholders voted to approve his compensation package. But the critics did make their voices heard. The J&J pay plans passed with just 61 percent of the vote.

J&J shareholders don't have control over Weldon's pay, but they do have the right to register their feelings about it. And some shareholders were agitating for a vote against the compensation plan. They maintained Weldon doesn't deserve his multimillion-dollar paycheck, given that 2010 was a year marred by recalls, FDA investigations, quality control snafus and other woes.

The up-or-down vote applied to J&J's overall executive compensation philosophy, policies and procedures, as well as the actual compensation of the executive officers named in the proxy statement, the company reported on its blog. It was the shareholders' first "say-on-pay" vote. Some 39 percent of the votes cast went against the company, with 61 percent voting for it.

"Johnson & Johnson's Board of Directors and Johnson & Johnson's leadership will consider the very specific and constructive feedback we received from the shareholders who took the time to provide them to us when making decisions in the coming year regarding our executive compensation plans," wrote General Counsel Doug Chia, who filed the meeting report at JNJ BTW. And shareholders will have the chance to vote again next year; investors passed a provision allowing "say-on-pay" votes annually.

- get the JNJ BTW blog post
- read the New York Times story

Special Report: Top 10 Pharma CEO salaries of 2010