FedEx investors OK CEO pay, proposals on lobbying and “golden parachutes”

FedEx Corp (FDX.N) investors approved billionaire Chief Executive Fred Smith’s $54 million pay plan on Monday at the delivery company’s annual meeting, but rebuffed the corporate board’s recommendations on shareholder proposals on lobbying and outsized executive severance packages.

Investors approved by more than 50% non-binding proposals for more disclosures on the company’s lobbying and for shareholder voting on senior management severance packages that pay out more than roughly three times salary and bonus, known as “golden parachutes.”

The investor support is part of a sea change this year as top funds throw more of their weight behind shareholder challenges to companies on environmental, social and governance (ESG) issues.

“It is clear mainstream investors have had enough with FedEx and its exposure to dark money politics,” said Michael Pryce-Jones, senior corporate governance analyst at the International Brotherhood of Teamsters, which sponsored the lobbying proposal. “Partial disclosure only begs the question: what are you hiding?”

FedEx said in an emailed statement it would “consider the results of the vote as it evaluates (its) disclosure and compensation practices.”

The Teamsters labor union, which has been bargaining on behalf of FedEx employees at a freight facility, had also urged that investors reject Smith’s pay. The union said his pay package amounted to “double dipping” because Smith received stock options instead of a cash bonus last year after the pandemic hit, and then was also awarded the cash bonus.

FedEx said in a supplementary securities filing this month that the board’s compensation committee made “decisions in real-time, based on the best information available.”

The lobbying proposal asks FedEx to prepare a report updated annually on its political expenditures at local, state and federal levels. FedEx said it supported business and regulatory actions that further its business objectives.

The severance payout proposal, submitted by investor John Chevedden, says investors should be protected from golden parachute payouts.