Biggest Sovereign Wealth Fund Proposes to Curb CEO Bonus Plans

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Norway’s $915 billion wealth fund proposed reining in long-term incentive packages for chief executive officers, saying a “substantial proportion” of pay should be provided in shares that are locked in for as long as 10 years.

Pay practices should also be simple and avoid putting undue strain on corporate governance and allotted shares shouldn’t have performance conditions and “complex criteria,” the world’s largest sovereign wealth fund said in a report released on Friday in Oslo.

Yngve Slyngstad, the fund’s chief executive officer, said the investor for now prefers a general discussion and that setting specific targets will still be up to company boards.

“The most important thing for us is that these structures are long term,” he said at a press conference in Oslo.

The state-controlled fund has become increasingly activist in its approach to corporate governance and also on Friday called for more transparency by companies on taxes and said that these should be paid where the economic value is generated.

The fund argued that boards should provide transparency on pay to avoid “unacceptable outcomes,” disclose a ceiling for total remuneration for the coming year and that CEO pay should be determined and settled in cash and locked-in shares each year. Pension income should also constitute a minor part of total remuneration and boards should commit to not offering any end-of-employment arrangements that effectively shorten or dilute lock-ins of shares, the fund said.

Slyngstad said the proposal put forward will be used for a general discussion and that the fund is aware that big regional differences will remain.

It’s looking at starting a dialogue this year with companies and will look at using its voting power next year, he said.

“There are talks between us and other investors, but in the end this has become a societal issue,” Slyngstad said.

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