This company successfully thwarted investors’ efforts to rein in executive pay

June 14, 2013
June 14, 2013

We recently told you about four companies ignoring their shareholders’ votes. One was Hecla Mining, a silver producer that held the polls open longer than planned when it looked like shareholders were going to reject management’s pay package.

The vote is only advisory, but Hecla’s stalling worked: Instead of failing 49.6% to 46.7%, the company’s say-on-pay vote passed with 53.7% of the vote.

Of course, corporate-governance experts say such a close result should still be a wake-up call to management. Time will tell if it makes a difference at Hecla.

By giving shareholders more time to vote, Hecla’s “yes” votes rose by 15.1 million shares, while “no” votes fell 3.5 million shares; abstentions also rose slightly. In all, 12.3 million additional votes were cast (or abstained) during the extra month, so presumably some of the original “no” votes switched sides.

While the company waited, it sent a couple additional solicitations to shareholders, urging them to vote on May 22 and providing some cryptic charts about proxy advisers and a key competitor on June 7.

When we originally wrote about the issue, a Hecla spokesman said the company was hoping to improve the 40% shareholder turnout. It did that, to about 47% of shares eligible to vote. By contrast, just 42% of Hecla shares were voted last year, overwhelmingly in favor of executives’ pay—without an extension.

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