AstraZeneca issues its decision on £19million pay packet for chief executive

Yesterday morning, just hours before its annual meeting, AstraZeneca said that it would increase its 2024 dividend by 7% or 20 US cents (15.9p) to £2.47 per share. That equates to a shareholder payout worth £3.8billion.

At the AGM, AstraZeneca asked its investors to rubber stamp its plans to boost the maximum amount Soriot can earn in annual bonuses for his 2024 performance from 250% of his £1.4million base pay to 300%. It also wanted them to lift the maximum payout from his performance shares plan from 650% of base pay to 850%.

That would take his total pay packet to just under £19million. For 2023, Soriot took home £16.9million in base pay, bonuses and incentive shares.

AstraZeneca said that X% of shareholders voted for the pay hike.

AJ Bell investment director Russ Mould said: “It’s no coincidence that AstraZeneca has delivered shareholders some good news on the same day they are being asked to vote on a £1.8million pay rise for Soriot.

“Announcing a 7% hike in the dividend is clearly positive for shareholders, but are they being buttered up so their vote swings a certain way? At face value this looks like a ‘something for you, something for Pascal, everyone’s a winner’ strategy.”

Proxy voting agencies, who advise institutional shareholders on company votes, had recommended voting against the pay hike for Soriot as they viewed it as excessive.

Mould pointed out that under Soriot, who was appointed in October 2012, AstraZeneca’s profits have risen and its share price has soared over 265%.

“He (Soriot) has certainly delivered a lot of value for shareholders and presided over a major period of growth for the business – and no-one is denying that. The moot point is the scale of his remuneration,” he said.

“It’s not wildly out of kilter with some of the peer group and AstraZeneca clearly wants to do everything it can to keep the architect of its success. However, it begs the question whether pay in general has got out of hand in the pharma sector.”


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