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Yahoo! shareholders shun protest vote

Semel keeps $71.7 million comp package

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Yahoo! shareholders today re-elected the company’s directors and rejected calls to restructure compensation for senior executives.

Three advisory firms had called on shareholders to vote at Yahoo!’s annual meeting in Santa Clara, California against several board members as a way of protesting the $71.7 million compensation afforded CEO Terry Semel. According to the Associated Press, Semel’s compensation is the highest among CEOs at the Standard & Poor’s 500 companies that filed proxy information this year.

The advisory firms had recommended that bonuses and options for senior execs be tied to company performance, including stock price and search engine market share. The company’s stock price has dropped 10 per cent in the past year, and according to the latest figures from Hitwise.com, Yahoo! accounts for only 21 per cent of Web searches, well behind Google’s 65 per cent.

Sixty-six per cent of shareholders rejected the proposal, voting in favor of the board. Investors also defeated efforts to create a board committee on human rights and establish a new policy that would prevent the company from censoring its sites in China.

In recent months, Yahoo! has been sued in U.S. District Court over the imprisonment of two different Chinese journalists. Both were imprisoned after the company released information about their Internet activity to the Chinese government.®

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