YHOO Annual Meeting: Attempt To Reform Exec Pay Loses; Directors Elected With Low Majority

As we noted earlier, Yahoo CEO Terry Semel was likely to face a tough audience at its annual general shareholders meeting on Tuesday. Activist shareholder Eric Jackson had said he planned to confront Semel about his 2006 compensation of $71.7 million. With the feeling among some that Yahoo has been drifting under Semel, his pay has been a huge thorn to a group of shareholders. Here’s a sampling of what actually went down:

Reuters: Executive pay and China were the big issues being discussed, but as expected, no substantive action will be taken to address either issue. In a win for Semel, shareholders voted down proposals to tie executive pay to competitive performance. In what was the closest vote at the shareholder meeting, the United Brotherhood of Carpenters Pension Fund proposed that executive compensation be tied to superior performance as opposed to being based on averaging internet industry pay among peers. It received about 34 percent in favor and 62 percent against. Another proposal calling for Yahoo to adopt anti-censorship policies with regard to countries like China was decisively defeated by 74 percent to 15 percent.

WSJ: Shareholders have zeroed in on the disparity between Yahoo’s slowing growth amid Google’s continued success. Yahoo’s stock has fallen 10 percent from a year ago, while Google’s stock is up more than 30 percent. While the efforts to curb executive pay failed, it’s clear that shareholders are becoming restive. Last year, all of Yahoo’s directors were approved with roughly 97 percent or greater of shareholder voters, compared with this year’s approval getting the nod from less than 70 percent of shareholders.

FT: Semel urged shareholders to give Panama time and said its success should be judged at the end of the year. He sought to counter reports of low morale among staff and difficulties filling top positions, with eight top executives having left the company in the past year. Yahoo was on Fortune magazine’s list as one of the best places to work, he said, and the developers of Panama were “very happy campers.” He defended Yahoo’s acquisition strategy, stressing how it had picked up relatively inexpensive Web 2.0 companies such as the photo-sharing site Flickr, which was expanding globally.

NYT: Patrick McGurn, EVP-Institutional Shareholder Services: “That