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How Should Environmental, Social and Governance (ESG) Performance be Reflected in Executive Compensation?

Companies are responding to increasing pressure from shareholders, proxy advisors, employees, and even local and state governments to consider environmental, social and governance (ESG) issues as part of business strategy and performance.

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Many of the public company boards and corporate executives (very notably, 181 CEOs signing the Business Roundtable Statement avowing Stakeholder primacy1) that are eager to demonstrate this responsiveness cite compensation as an existing, meaningful and highly visible tool that is…

Drafting a Modern Equity Incentive Plan

With the 2020 proxy season approaching, many public companies are readying new or amended equity plans for shareholder approval.

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These plans are a ubiquitous feature of public companies’ compensation programs. They allow companies to grant various types of equity and equity-based awards to their non- employee directors, executives and other key employees. Although equity plans are broadly similar, companies…

Fostering Diversity in Board Pay Practices, Part Two

In this two-part series, we examine the current state of board compensation and whether it accommodates evolving governance practices.

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In recent years, we have observed a remarkable level of homogenization of compensation practices for non-employee directors, even as what is expected from board members of public companies continues to evolve and—generally speaking—expand. In our client work, we have also…

Compensation Committees: Good Governance Process Leads to Effective Decision-Making

Compensation Committees (“Committees”) are held to the highest legal standard when setting the compensation of executive officers.

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That is, Committee decision-making must pass muster under fiduciary standards to be defensible and withstand judicial scrutiny. To meet these fiduciary standards, Compensation Committees should have in place a robust governance process from which to develop sound compensation determinations and…

Top Ten Design Considerations When Drafting a Modern Equity Incentive Plan

With the 2020 proxy season approaching, many public companies are readying new or amended equity plans for shareholder approval.

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These plans are a ubiquitous feature of public companies’ compensation programs. They allow companies to grant various types of equity and equity-based awards to their non- employee directors, executives and other key employees. Although equity plans are broadly similar, companies still…

Executive Pay Outreach

From the Volume 2 2019 issue of CEO Magazine...The continued scrutiny of executive compensation coupled with the rise of shareholder activism has prompted many US companies to consider specific strategies around shareholder communications. In response, Bob Romanchek and Tom Ramagnano, partners at Meridian Compensation Partners, provide effective solutions and independent advice for executive compensation and corporate governance.

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Historically, a company’s communication with investors has been centred around the quarterly tion of financial business results and forward-looking guidance, along with year- end results. However, developments over the past several years have led companies to engage with major institutional…

Managing Disclosure on Personal Use of Corporate Aircraft

Personal use of corporate aircraft remains a popular perquisite among many of the largest public companies.

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In addition to getting executives to important business destinations and enabling them to work proactively while traveling, many companies provide top executives the opportunity to use the corporate aircraft for non-business purposes, including travel to outside company board meetings, spousal…

Prepping Your Clawback Policy for Prime Time

As seen in the November/December 2019 issue of the NACD Director Advisory

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In the wake of corporate scandals and high-profile executive misconduct, compensation committees are reviewing the adequacy of their clawback and forfeiture policies. Board members want to be assured they have the tools needed if they find themselves in the headlines.…

Time to Check Your Equity Incentive Plan Share Reserve

With depressed energy stocks, more shares are now needed to maintain recent levels of employee equity awards.

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This increase in share use also means that equity incentive plan reserves will drain at a faster rate, and may run out sooner than expected. Companies often ask for more shares when there is roughly enough left in the plan…

Fostering Diversity in Board Pay Practices, Part One

In this two-part series, we examine the current state of board compensation and whether it accommodates evolving governance practices.

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In recent years, we have observed a remarkable level of homogenization of compensation practices for non-employee directors, even as what is expected from board members of public companies continues to evolve and – generally speaking – expand. In our client work,…

Why Pre-IPO Peer Groups are (or at least should be) Different

External benchmarking provides critical information for executive pay decisions.

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Most compensation committees review information gathered from a customized peer group of companies as part of compensation program development and relative performance reviews, and peer group construction is often a matter of significant debate. Common sense would suggest that if…

Compensation: Quiet Before the Storm?

Why now is the right time for an executive compensation audit. As seen in Corporate Board Member Fourth Quarter 2019.

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Compensation committees fared well in the 2019 proxy season, with the vast majority of Russell 3000 companies receiving support on their compensation programs from proxy advisors and shareholders. Yet, compensation programs continue to be a hot=button issue for stakeholders, with…

Board Compensation, Diversity Under Scrutiny

As seen in the 3rd Quarter 2019 issue of Bank Director

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Similar to trends in other industries, banks have been simplifying their director pay programs. Slightly more than half of publicly traded banks with $1 billion to $10 billion in assets increased cash retainers instead of offering board meeting fees. Board…

Managing Executive Incentive Programs for Chemical Companies

Designing and managing effective compensation programs is challenging for chemical industry companies due to the highly cyclical and global nature of the business.

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This article offers some useful context and information for compensation committees and management teams of chemical companies to consider when designing and managing their executive pay programs. In particular, we cover key attributes of the industry and their impact on…

Report on Say on Pay and Select Shareholder Proposals For the 2019 Proxy Season

Meridian Compensation Partners, LLC is pleased to provide this periodic report on key voting results for the 2019 proxy season.

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Executive Summary Specifically, this report will cover the following areas: ■ Standard & Poor’s (S&P) 500 Say on Pay (SOP) Vote Results and Analysis; ■ Russell 3000 SOP Vote Results and Analysis; and ■ Analysis of Vote Results on Select…

Use Compensation to Advance ESG Initiatives

From the July/August 2019 issue of the NACD Directorship magazine.

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Directors should take a close look at how their companies can use compensation to advance an environmental, social, and governance (ESG) strategy. A key to ESG oversight is the board’s examination of how compensation reflects and advances the company’s commitment…

2019 Say on Pay Outcomes in Oil & Gas Continue to Trail General Industry

Several oil & gas companies had a rough proxy season in 2019, with overall lukewarm shareholder support for executive pay programs in the industry.

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While many companies received kudos from investors for the addition of returns-oriented incentive metrics, others struggled to demonstrate pay-for-performance alignment or continued to make aggressive pay actions despite lackluster shareholder returns in 2018. In this posting, we take a look…

Why Wait for Congress (and the SEC) Before Reviewing Your 10b5-1 Plan?

With overwhelming bipartisan support, on January 28, 2019 the U.S. House of Representatives approved the “Promoting Transparent Standards for Corporate Insiders Act” which is aimed at curbing potential abuse of Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) Rule 10b5-1 trading plans by corporate insiders.

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The bill includes six procedural restrictions for the SEC to study for consideration as potential amendments to Rule 10b5-1. The proposed restrictions prescribe a reasonable approach for administering plans based on sound governance practices. One might wonder why companies would…

EVA for E&P Companies: A Challenging Measure

In 2019, ISS introduced Economic Value Added (EVA) analysis as additional context in its evaluation of executive pay and performance prior to issuing a “say on pay” (SOP) vote recommendation.

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While initially the EVA material will be provided purely for information, it seems inevitable that ISS will continue to push to include EVA as a formal part of its pay for performance analysis. There are general concerns about ISS using…

The Revival of Excise Tax Gross-Ups?

Occidental’s proposed acquisition of Anadarko may kick off a new wave of consolidation in the oil & gas industry.

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This potential wave has generated questions about Change-in-Control (CIC) severance protections, amplified by the significant coverage of Anadarko’s last minute enhancements to its CIC severance programs (see article). The Anadarko enhancements included elevated severance benefits and the re-insertion of excise…