Dutch Pension Funds Protest Ahold C.E.O.'s Salary

AMSTERDAM, Netherlands -- Two large Dutch pension funds, PGGM and ABP, have written to embattled supermarket retailer Royal Ahold NV protesting new c.e.o. Anders Moberg's remuneration package, according to a copy of a joint letter written by the two funds dated Tuesday.

The pension funds, the two largest in the Netherlands, said that they object both to the way Moberg's salary was disclosed to shareholders and the fact that the new c.e.o. has both a high variable pay and a large exit arrangement.

Moberg, who was appointed CEO of Ahold last Thursday, will earn at least EUR6 million in the coming two years, which will make him one of the highest-paid CEOs in the Netherlands.

The package, presented at Thursday's shareholders meeting, specifies that Moberg will receive a basic salary of EUR1.5 million per year, with a guaranteed bonus of the same amount.

At the meeting, investors expressed indignation over Moberg's pay package and threatened to ask for a delay in the vote on his appointment. Moberg then threatened to withdraw his candidacy for the position as c.e.o. if he wasn't voted in that day.

In the end, shareholders approved his candidacy but pension fund ABP said it voted in favor only because it feared the impact on Ahold if a c.e.o. wasn't appointed.

In Tuesday's letter, ABP and PGGM said that Ahold only disclosed Moberg's pay package at the last minute, and that investors who had voted in his favor beforehand via proxy weren't able to take the information into account.

"We consider such a procedure to be careless. This creates bad will among shareholders," the pension funds said. "A lot of trust has been lost and restoring it must be given a high priority. Given last week's events, it is doubtful whether Ahold is giving this priority."
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