Netflix Shareholders Reject Executive Pay Packages in Symbolic Move; WGA Had Urged Investors to Vote Against Them

In a symbolic rebuke of Netflix’s top executives, company shareholders voted against approving the compensation packages of leaders including co-CEOs Ted Sarandos and Greg Peters.

At the streamer’s June 1 annual shareholders meeting, investors failed to approve the proposed exec pay packages for 2023. But the vote was a non-binding “say-on-pay” advisory measure, meaning Netflix’s board can disregard the result. The board had unanimously recommended voting for the 2023 compensation plans.

The vote came after the Writers Guild of America had urged investors to vote against Netflix’s exec compensation measures in a letter Tuesday. That said, the majority of shareholder votes on the measure had already been cast prior to the issuance of the WGA’s letter — and most of those were “no” votes, according to a source familiar with the situation.

“While investors have long taken issue with Netflix’s executive pay, the compensation structure is more egregious against the backdrop of the strike,” WGA West president Meredith Stiehm wrote in the letter to Netflix shareholders. Stiehm continued, “Shareholders should send a message to Netflix that if the company could afford to spend $166 million on executive compensation last year, it can afford to pay the estimated $68 million per year that writers are asking for in contract improvements and put an end to the disruptive strike.”

WGA sent a similar letter Comcast investors, whose 2023 shareholder meeting is slated for next Wednesday, June 7.

Last year, 27% of the shareholder votes cast at the Netflix shareholders meeting were in favor of its 2022 executive compensation plans. The final vote tallies from this year’s meeting will be included in an upcoming Netflix SEC filing.

In 2023, Sarandos’ pay package will be worth up to $40 million (which would match his 2022 compensation plan), comprising $3 million in base salary, a $17 million performance bonus and $20 million worth of stock options. Peters, who was named Netflix co-CEO in January after Reed Hastings stepped down from the role, is set to receive as much as $34.65 million as co-CEO ($3 million annual salary, $17.325 million in options and a $14.325 million performance-based target bonus).

In addition Netflix CFO Spencer Neumann this year is to receive $14 million ($7 million in salary and $7 million in stock options), chief legal officer David Hyman will get $11 million ($4 million salary, $7 million in stock) and chief communications officer Rachel Whetstone is to receive $6.5 million ($5.7 million salary, $800,000 in stock).

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