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AstraZeneca CEO Soriot’s Pay May Reap Protest at Annual Meeting

A U.K. pension group recommended that members vote against drugmaker AstraZeneca Plc’s remuneration policy to protest a “golden hello” payment and planned incentives for Chief Executive Officer Pascal Soriot.

The Local Authority Pension Fund Forum, whose 57 public sector pension fund members have more than 115 billion pounds ($176 billion) in assets, asked investors to oppose the pay plan at AstraZeneca’s annual general meeting on April 25, it said in a note to its members.

The fund forum is critical of Soriot’s “golden hello” of 991,000 pounds, which was compensation for his forfeited bonus at Roche Holding AG, and 4 million pounds in shares that may be given based on performance, it said. The pension investors in the group own less than 2 percent of London-based AstraZeneca’s shares, according to Tom Powdrill, a spokesman for the group.

Soriot became CEO in October, replacing David Brennan, who retired after several drug development setbacks. Soriot is to receive 1.1 million pounds in base salary a year and his bonus target is 100 percent of his salary, the company said Oct. 29.

“We are committed to levels of remuneration that are sufficient to attract, retain and motivate senior employees of the requisite quality, while avoiding paying more than is necessary,” AstraZeneca said today in an e-mailed statement. The company declined to comment specifically on the fund forum’s advice.

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