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Apple shareholders get 'say on pay'

Jobless outfit admits vote miscount

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Apple's shareholders will, after all, have the opportunity to weigh in on executive compensation.

In a brief announcement on Monday, Apple acknowledged an error in how it tallied a recent vote about granting shareholders input on executive pay. The original count had incorrectly recorded abstentions as "No" votes and the proposal lost. When corrected for this error, the proposal passed.

The practice of allowing shareholders to voice their opinion on compensation packages - known as "say on pay" - has been gaining popularity recently, due in no small part to rising disgust with the skyrocketing salaries and bonuses being paid to corporate bigwigs.

And CEO pay is, indeed, reaching ludicrous levels. According to the US labor behemoth, the AFL-CIO, 2008 was a good year from America execs, seeing as how their average compensation totaled $10.4m (£7.1m). Their perks alone averaged nearly $340,000 (£232,150) - "nine times the median salary of a full-time worker," according to the AFL-CIO.

Say on pay votes aren't binding, but it would be a suicidally shortsighted board of directors that would ignore such a vote - especially seeing as how the say on pay trend is not being advanced merely by rank-and-file stockholders, but also by large institutional investors.

With the revised tally, Apple now joins Intel in adopting say on pay in the Silicon Valley.

But it was close. In its original Form 10-Q filing with the US Securities and Exchange Commission as part of its recent quarterly financial statement, Apple had reported that the say on pay had gone down to defeat with 51.66 per cent of the votes against the proposal. In an amendment filed on Monday, however, the proposal passed with 51.63 per cent in favor.

According to Apple, "an internal investigation confirmed the mistake was due to human error." We sincerely doubt that the human in question is earning $10.4m per year. ®

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