Life after a Shareholder Pay 'Strike': Consequences for ASX-Listed Firms

Publication Type:
Journal Article
CIFR Paper, 2016, (130/2016), pp. 1 - 55
Issue Date:
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“Say on pay” legislation has been introduced in several countries but Australia’s version, namely the “two-strikes” rule, is unique in that it empowers shareholders to vote on a board spill if the compensation report of a public company receives 25% or more dissenting votes for two consecutive years. We test the proposition that the “two strikes” rule has increased directors’ accountability beyond executive pay because it has substantially lowered the cost to activists of organizing sufficient votes to threaten managers with a board spill. Consistent with this expectation, we find Australian firms respond to negative say-on-pay votes by curbing excessive CEO pay, reducing the growth rate of pay and changing the pay mix. In addition, the results suggest that the market regards negative SOP votes as a value-destroying signal since there is a negative market reaction, lower valuation and long-run underperformance. We also find an increase in CEO turnover but directors do not seem to bear reputational costs through the loss of outside directorships. The findings provide important insights to investors, company directors and regulators.
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