​Spark backtracks on director pay rise following shareholder concern

“We believe it’s important to make decisions with a strong mandate from our shareholders."

Spark New Zealand’s Board of Directors has withdrawn a resolution seeking shareholder support for an increase in the total directors’ remuneration fee pool.

The telco had initially proposed to increase director pay to $8,000, but faced concern from shareholders who were against raising the remuneration fee pool to $1.6 million a year.

“We firmly believe the proposed increase in the Directors’ remuneration pool was justified, given that it has not increased in over a decade and the modest proposed increase of 5 percent meant the increased pool would benchmark well with comparable listed entities in New Zealand and Australia,” says Mark Verbiest, Chairman, Spark.

Mark Verbiest says the Board “continually monitors shareholder feedback”, and while many shareholders were supportive of the increase, current sensitivity regarding director fee increases meant some had expressed concern.

“We believe it’s important to make decisions with a strong mandate from our shareholders,” he adds.

In light of feedback to date, Verbiest says the company has therefore decided not to put this resolution forward given it could “detract from the solid progress that Spark New Zealand is making for shareholders.”

“Withdrawing it in the circumstances is the right thing to do,” Verbiest adds.

“If we believe it is appropriate and in the best interests of the company and shareholders, we may seek to put a related resolution forward at a subsequent meeting.”

Spark New Zealand shareholders were due to vote on the proposal at the company’s annual meeting on November 6.

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