Pfizer shareholders want "say on pay"

Pfizer shareholders are on the cutting edge. At yesterday's annual meeting, they approved a proposal to ask the board of directors for an advisory vote on executive compensation. (They also asked for greater latitude in calling a special shareholders' meeting, but that's not the subject of our story.)

Just how sharp that cutting edge turns out to be is up for grabs. Will Pfizer's directors assent? Only a few of their public-company brethren have done so, although more and more shareholders are putting forward the idea. The so-called "say on pay" votes have become fashionable of late because of growing concerns about executive compensation, which continues to mushroom even at companies whose performance has been less than stellar.

Pfizer executives aren't the highest-paid in Big Pharma, but they're not scraping the bottom of the barrel, either. CEO Jeff Kindler's (photo) 2008 package came in at $16 million, lower than the top dog pay at Merck, Abbott Labs, among others. Kindler beat out Amgen and Gilead Sciences' CEOs, though; they made around $13 million apiece.

- read the Wall Street Journal article