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Microsoft adopts Say-on-Pay measure for shareholders

Hands 4% pay rise to Big Steve

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Microsoft jacked up CEO Steve Ballmer’s salary by four per cent for the company’s bumpy 2009 financial year, which ended in June.

Redmond paid Ballmer $665,833 compared to his 2008 salary of $640,833, according to a US Securities and Exchange Commission regulatory filing.

The Microsoft boss, who at the start of this year announced the software vendor would cut around 5,000 jobs, said he didn’t want any equity compensation from the firm.

Ballmer currently owns around 408m MS shares worth more than $10bn. Microsoft didn’t reveal its boss’s bonus for the year. Ballmer reeled in a $700,000 bonus in 2008.

In January Microsoft told its employees and execs that they wouldn’t be handed merit-based pay rises for the 2010 fiscal year.

The decision followed the company’s first ever drop in annual sales and operating profit, which fell nine per cent to $20.9bn. Shares tumbled more than 13 per cent over the same 12-month period, as Microsoft - like so many other firms - tried to ride out the financial storm.

Microsoft said it has left its quarterly dividend at 13 cents per share.

Additionally, Microsoft’s board adopted a “Say-on-Pay” policy on Friday that the company first mulled in May this year.

The measure gives shareholders the opportunity to voice their opinion every three years about bonuses and salaries received by the vendor’s execs.

“Under the policy adopted by the Board today, Microsoft shareholders will be able to cast a non-binding, advisory vote every three years on the compensation programs for our senior executive officers,” said Microsoft’s general counsel Brad Smith.

He confirmed that the first such vote would take place at the software maker’s annual shareholders’ meeting on 19 November. ®

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