Tesla shareholders approve CEO Musk’s $2.6 bln compensation plan

FILE- In this Feb. 6, 2018, file photo, Elon Musk, founder, CEO of SpaceX and CEO of Tesla Inc., speaks at a news conference after the Falcon 9 SpaceX heavy rocket launched successfully from the Kennedy Space Center in Cape Canaveral, Fla. Shareholders of electric car and solar panel maker Tesla Inc. are voting on a pay package for Musk that could net him more than $50 billion if he meets lofty milestones over the next decade that include raising the company's market value tenfold. (AP Photo/John Raoux, File)
Updated 21 March 2018
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Tesla shareholders approve CEO Musk’s $2.6 bln compensation plan

SAN FRANCISCO/BOSTON: Tesla Inc. shareholders approved a compensation package potentially worth as much as $2.6 billion for Chief Executive Elon Musk on Wednesday in a test of their confidence in the leader of the electric car company.
A Tesla spokesperson confirmed that shareholders had approved the measure at a special shareholder’s meeting in Fremont, California, but did not disclose the number of votes for or against.
The proposed compensation award for the Silicon Valley billionaire, valued at up to $2.6 billion, involves no salary or cash bonus but sets rewards based on Tesla’s market value rising to as much as $650 billion over the next 10 years.
Ahead of the vote, a top investor in Tesla Inc. and a major proxy adviser offered opposing views on whether to support the compensation arrangement, which required majority approval from shareholders.
The vote has been seen as a test of whether big investors are prepared to support such a large payout at the founder-led company.
Musk’s pay plan “is well aligned with shareholders’ long-term interests,” a spokesman for T. Rowe Price Group, Tesla’s fourth-largest investor with about 6 percent of its shares, told Reuters on Wednesday, without saying which way the Baltimore fund firm would vote.
Earlier this month, proxy advisory firm Institutional Shareholder Services recommended Tesla stockholders reject the package, saying the “unprecedented” award was too rich.
A smaller investor, the California State Teachers’ Retirement System (CalSTRS), also said it would oppose the award. CalSTRS is one of the nation’s largest public pension plans but only the 59th largest investor in the car maker, with a 0.13 percent stake.
“Given the size of the award, we believe the potential dilution to shareholders is just too great. In addition, we have concerns about the lack of focus on profitability for the company, and the one profitability metric that is used excludes the cost of stock-based compensation,” CalSTRS’ Director of Corporate Governance, Anne Sheehan, said in a statement before the vote.
Musk could own as much as $55.8 billion in Tesla stock and more than a quarter of the electric car company in the next decade if he hits all targets of the new plan.
Under the proposed award, which involves stock options that vest in 12 tranches, Tesla’s market value must increase to $100 billion for the first tranche to vest and rise in additional $50 billion increments for the remainder.
Tesla was valued at about $52.46 billion at Tuesday’s closing price, according to Thomson Reuters data. Its shares have fallen nearly 12 percent since the pay plan for Musk was announced.


Energy giants spent $1bn on climate lobbying, PR since Paris: watchdog

Updated 23 March 2019
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Energy giants spent $1bn on climate lobbying, PR since Paris: watchdog

  • Firms under pressure to explain how greener laws will hit business models

PARIS: The five largest publicly listed oil and gas majors have spent $1 billion since the 2015 Paris climate deal on public relations or lobbying that is “overwhelmingly in conflict” with the landmark accord’s goals, a watchdog said Friday.
Despite outwardly committing to support the Paris agreement and its aim to limit global temperature rises, ExxonMobil, Shell, Chevron, BP and Total spend a total of $200 million a year on efforts “to operate and expand fossil fuel operations,” according to InfluenceMap, a pro-transparency monitor.
Two of the companies — Shell and Chevron — said they rejected the watchdog’s findings.
“The fossil fuel sector has ramped up a quite strategic program of influencing the climate agenda,” InfluenceMap Executive Director Dylan Tanner told AFP.
“It’s a continuum of activity from their lobby trade groups attacking the details of regulations, controlling them all the way up, to controlling the way the media thinks about the oil majors and climate.”
The report comes as oil and gas giants are under increasing pressure from shareholders to come clean over how greener lawmaking will impact their business models.
As planet-warming greenhouse gas emissions hit their highest levels in human history in 2018, the five companies wracked up total profits of $55 billion.
At the same time, the International Panel on Climate Change — composed of the world’s leading climate scientists — issued a call for a radical drawdown in fossil fuel use in order to hit the 1.5C (2.7 Fahrenheit) cap laid out in the Paris accord.
InfluenceMap looked at accounts, lobbying registers and communications releases since 2015, and alleged a large gap between the climate commitments companies make and the action they take.

 

It said all five engaged in lobbying and “narrative capture” through direct contact with lawmakers and officials, spending millions on climate branding, and by employing trade associations to represent the sector’s interests in policy discussions.
“The research reveals a trend of carefully devised campaigns of positive messaging combined with negative policy lobbying on climate change,” it said.
It added that of the more than $110 billion the five had earmarked for capital investment in 2019, just $3.6bn was given over to low-carbon schemes.
The report came one day after the European Parliament was urged to strip ExxonMobil lobbyists of their access, after the US giant failed to attend a hearing where expert witnesses said the oil giant has knowingly misled the public over climate change.
“How can we accept that companies spending hundreds of millions on lobbying against the EU’s goal of reaching the Paris agreement are still granted privileged access to decision makers?” said Pascoe Sabido, Corporate Europe Observatory’s climate policy researcher, who was not involved in the InfluenceMap report.
The report said Exxon alone spent $56 million a year on “climate branding” and $41 million annually on lobbying efforts.
In 2017 the company’s shareholders voted to push it to disclose what tougher emissions policies in the wake of Paris would mean for its portfolio.
With the exception of France’s Total, each oil major had largely focused climate lobbying expenditure in the US, the report said.
Chevron alone has spent more than $28 million in US political donations since 1990, according to the report.
AFP contacted all five oil and gas companies mentioned in the report for comment.
“We disagree with the assertion that Chevron has engaged in ‘climate-related branding and lobbying’ that is ‘overwhelmingly in conflict’ with the Paris Agreement,” said a Chevron spokesman.
“We are taking action to address potential climate change risks to our business and investing in technology and low carbon business opportunities that could reduce greenhouse gas emissions.”
A spokeswoman for Shell — which the report said spends $49 million annually on climate lobbying — said it “firmly rejected” the findings.
“We are very clear about our support for the Paris Agreement, and the steps that we are taking to help meet society’s needs for more and cleaner energy,” they told AFP.
BP, ExxonMobil and Total did not provide comment to AFP.

FACTOID

$ 28m

Chevron alone has spent more than $28 million in US political donations since 1990, according to the report.