UMG CEO Lucian Grainge’s $128M 2023 Pay Package Approved by Shareholders

Universal Music Group (UMG) shareholders approved CEO Lucian Grainge‘s 138.8 million euros ($128 million) compensation package from 2023 in a nonbinding advisory vote at the company’s annual general meeting in The Netherlands on Thursday (May 16).

A majority of investors voted to approve all proposals up for a vote this year, including the reappointment of billionaire Bill Ackman, Cyrille Bollore and others as non-executive directors despite criticism from shareholder advisory groups Glass Lewis, who last month called UMG’s pay practices excessive and said the board lacked independence.

Advisory shareholder votes like these are only advisory and not enforceable, but they are closely watched as indicators of investors’ feelings on a company’s pay policies and the people who make up their boards. Anytime a significant percentage of investors expresses disapproval, which Glass Lewis defines as 20% or more, directors consult with shareholders about how to make internal changes to address their concerns.

Investors in Live Nation and Cumulus Media used recent shareholder meetings to vote their disapproval of those companies’ CEO pay packages.

UMG did not immediately disclose the percentage of votes cast in support of the proposals at this year’s annual meeting, which was livestreamed only to registered shareholders. Last year, a slim majority of UMG investors representing roughly 59% of shares voted in approval of UMG’s remuneration policy, which details the 2023 compensation packages paid out to Grainge and deputy CEO Vincent Vallejo.

About 58% of UMG’s voting shares are collectively held by Ackman’s Pershing Square Capital Management, Tencent, Bollore and Vivendi. Last year, all four shareholders voted to approve UMG’s remuneration policy.

Grainge’s total 2023 compensation is 138,814,000 euros, or $128,264,000 based on a monthly average foreign exchange rate of 0.924. In 2022, he was the third highest-paid music executive, having made total compensation of 47.3 million euros ($49.7 million) thanks to a 28.8 million euros ($30.3 million) performance bonus in addition to a base salary of 15.4 million euros ($16.2 million).

In 2023, Grainge had a base salary of 7.5 million euros (just over $8 million) and bonus of 15.16 million euros (nearly $16.3 million), and a one-time transition equity award worth 92,406,852 euros (roughly $100 million). That award was paid out in half in restricted stock units and half in performance stock options. The performance stock options vest over the coming five years and can only be excised once UMG’s stock hits certain thresholds.

Glenn Peoples contributed reporting.

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