Innovative Interfaces Co-Founder Tells BlackRock to Say No to Big CEO Pay

The entrepreneur will deploy a trust he owns to prod BlackRock to vote no on big executive pay packages.

Stephen Silberstein, co-founder of Innovative Interfaces Inc., a provider of library software for services including cataloging and circulation, is reported to be fed up with elite complacency, corporate fat cats and self-dealing.

You have every presidential candidate, from Donald Trump to Bernie Sanders to Hillary, talking about this excess CEO pay.

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As a result, he is now intending to air his thoughts at the ballot box by deploying a trust he owns in an attempt to prod BlackRock Inc. to vote no on big executive pay packages.

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Silberstein is among a growing number of investors and nonprofit groups pressuring fund managers to keep a closer eye on how companies pay top executives and influence politics.

In a related case, Finance Magnates today reported that Deutsche Bank shareholders voted against its new remuneration deal for top managers after ISS, their shareholder adviser, recommended investors reject the pay plan.

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Silberstein has likened his campaign to the abolitionist movement and has given more than $1 million to Hillary Clinton since she first ran for office in 2000 in a bid for a U.S. Senate seat from New York. He commented: “You have every presidential candidate, from Donald Trump to Bernie Sanders to Hillary, talking about this excess CEO pay. Four years ago, you didn’t have these kinds of conversations in the presidential campaign.”

Silberstein’s trust holds stakes in companies through funds managed by BlackRock, which votes his shares. According to Silberstein, the $4.7 trillion asset manager doesn’t vote the way he would, so he’s seizing the current populist moment to change that.

His proposal, up for vote on 25th May at BlackRock’s annual meeting, asks the fund manager to reconsider how it evaluates and votes on executive-pay plans. SumOfUs, a New York-based nonprofit that advocates on behalf of consumers, has collected nearly 75,000 signatures in support of Silberstein’s resolution.

Silberstein has said he doesn’t have high hopes for his proposal, which would require the company to evaluate options for bringing its voting practices in line with its stated principle of linking executive compensation and performance.

He does, however, have hopes for Norway’s central bank, which owns 6 percent of BlackRock. The $850 billion sovereign-wealth fund plans to identify a company it deems to be overpaying executives and use it as an example in a report to outline how it weighs compensation matters, according to the Financial Times.


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