Tesla shareholders urged to remove Elon Musk over 10-year comp plan, Twitter use
Pensions and Investment Research Consultants (Pirc), which hails as one of the largest pension representation and lobby groups in the UK, is urging Tesla (NASDAQ:TSLA) shareholders to remove Elon Musk over his 10-year CEO performance award and his Twitter behavior.
According to Pirc, Musk’s compensation plan, which could net a record $55.8 billion payout, “unfairly riches the chief executive.”
In a recommendation on Tuesday, Pirc alleged that Tesla’s “Board, including CEO Elon Musk, awarded themselves excessive compensation packages over a three-year period that allegedly allowed directors to ‘enrich themselves at the company’s expense.’”
The shareholder adviser also called on investors to vote against Musk’s re-election to Tesla’s board due to the deal, as it posed a “serious risk of reputational harm to the company and its shareholders.”
Investors were urged to vote against re-electing Robyn Denholm as Tesla’s chair. She succeeded Musk when he was forced to step down in November 2018.
Pirc said she should step down because of her role overseeing Musk’s pay award as independent non-executive chair and as a member of the remuneration committee.
Apart from Musk’s 10-year performance award, Pirc also took issue with the CEO’s use of Twitter, which has resulted in conflicts with regulators in the past.
The investor adviser stated that Musk’s antics in the social media platform had cost Tesla millions of dollars worth of settlements, thus representing an “unnecessary reputational risk to the company.” Pirc brought up Musk’s conflict with the SEC in 2018, which resulted in a total fine of $40 million from the CEO and Tesla.
“Mr Musk has been a vocal opponent of the Covid-19 quarantine, and reportedly required workers to return to work during quarantine, without sufficient precautions/protections and despite protests from workers,” Pirc said. “This concern is furthered as it has also been reported that multiple Tesla employees have tested positive for Covid-19 since returning to work.”
Pirc claimed that Musk’s giant pay package has led to unnecessary litigation costs to Tesla, including those stemming from a recent lawsuit brought up by some Tesla shareholders over whether Musk is eligible to withdraw money from the compensation plan.
On Tuesday, Tesla said in an SEC filing that it had agreed to pay Musk a $1 million fee to reimburse his out-of-pocket insurance expense.
Also citing board directors’ self-enrichment, a separate proxy advisor, Institutional Shareholder Services (ISS), last month urged investors to remove Tesla’s chairwoman Robyn Denholm at the September meeting.
Last year, Tesla paid its ten board members a total of over $18 million in cash and stock, including $2.7 million to Denholm herself. “These amounts are considered to be significant outliers” compared with directors at other companies, ISS researchers wrote in a report in June.