Alphabet Inc. May Clash With Shareholders At Annual Meeting

Alphabet Inc., the company who owns Google is set to clash with three of its major shareholders at its annual meeting on Wednesday over a number of issues, including the amount they pay their executives and the amount the company spends on political lobbying. It is thought that the three companies may oppose Google's board after their advisory companies recommended they do so. The advisers, Glass Lewis, Pirc, and ISS are unhappy about some aspects of how Alphabet Inc. is run. Glass Lewis said in a statement that there is “widespread dissatisfaction with aspects of the company’s general corporate governance, voting structure and equity plans.”

There are certain issues that the shareholders are very unhappy with, and they say they will be calling for a change in which the Mountain View-based company is run. One of the contentious issues is the $200 million pay and shares package Sundar Pichai, Google's Chief Executive received last year - shareholders say the amount of shares he received was excessive and are concerned that the salary of top executives is not linked to performance, as they say it should. Another issue the shareholders have is whether the company is paying female executives fairly, an issue that Google was heavily criticized for in 2016 by the US Department of Labor. Alphabet Inc. also face criticism over the way in which they carries out political lobbying. Over 20 shareholders have signed a proposal on this issue, including the Benedictine Sisters of Baltimore, and Walden Asset Management, saying that Alphabet Inc. should provide transparent annual reports on its political lobbying efforts, and in particular provide details about how much it pays to organisations such as trade groups. Alphabet say its shareholders should reject the proposal as the information is already provided on its website although that has been disputed, with ISS saying the list is "comprehensive but not exclusive."

The co-founders of Google, Larry Page, the CEO of Alphabet Inc., and Sergey Brin, Alphabet's President have faced widespread criticism in the past for the way they govern Alphabet. They jointly possess 51% of the company's voting power, although they say that this is to alleviate pressures of the stock market. It has not been confirmed yet whether they will attend in person to vote at the annual shareholder's meeting - last year they voted by proxy, although they were present for the meeting in 2015.

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Alexa Ward

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