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Apple CEO Tim Cook’s $99 million pay package is under attack as advisory firm urges shareholders to vote against it

February 17, 2022, 11:02 PM UTC

An influential shareholder advisory firm recommended that Apple investors reject a $99 million pay package awarded to CEO Tim Cook, saying it had “significant concerns” about the supersize compensation that equated to 1,400 times what an average company employee earned.

Institutional Shareholder Services sent a letter to its clients this week questioning the “design and magnitude” of Cook’s pay, the Financial Times reported

Cook’s total compensation for 2021 included a $3 million annual salary, $82.3 million stock award, and a $12 million cash bonus, according to company filings. ISS was particularly concerned about the size of Cook’s stock award and “perks” like $631,000 in security costs and $712,000 private jet travel that it said “significantly exceeded” comparable companies.        

Apple declined to comment on the letter, and referred to its proxy letter. In a section of the letter about executive compensation, the company said that its “2021 compensation of our named executive officers is commensurate with Apple’s size, performance and profitability, the significant scope of their roles and responsibilities, and their strong values-driven leadership.”

During Cook’s 10-year tenure as CEO, Apple has been on a huge winning streak. Its share price has soared over 10-fold, putting a market value of $2.76 trillion on the company, higher than any other. Apple has also hit multiple financial milestones, including becoming the most profitable business. 

While ISS suggested voting against Cook’s pay package, rival advisory firm Glass Lewis gave it a seal of approval. The contrast echoes 2015, when ISS also voiced concerns about Apple executive pay while Glass Lewis supported it.

Although shareholders can vote on Apple’s executive compensation plans at the company’s upcoming shareholder meeting on March 4, Apple’s board can ignore the recommendation.

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