Credit Suisse under fire from proxy advisers for CEO bonus

CEO Tidjane Thiam of Swiss bank Credit Suisse awaits the company’s annual news conference in Zurich, Switzerland February 14, 2019. REUTERS/Arnd Wiegmann

ZURICH (Reuters) – Credit Suisse’s shareholders should vote against the bank’s compensation report at the April 26 annual general meeting, proxy adviser Glass Lewis said, citing an “unjustified CEO bonus increase” for Chief Executive Tidjane Thiam.

Thiam, at the helm of the second-biggest Swiss bank since 2015, was awarded 12.65 million Swiss francs ($12.66 million) in total compensation in 2018, with short-term incentive awards (STI) of 4.94 million francs. That is up from 9.7 million francs total compensation and 3.98 million francs in STI in 2017.

Glass Lewis’s recommendation in the non-binding vote comes as Swiss ethical investment proxy adviser Ethos also urged shareholders reject the pay report.

Glass Lewis has in recent years blasted Credit Suisse’s pay practices as inappropriate, but last year had backed the Credit Suisse pay scheme.

“We are once again troubled by the board’s immediate exercise of upward discretion in increasing the CEO’s short-term incentive opportunity for the past fiscal year, which appears as an unnecessary anticipation of a reward for potential future results,” Glass Lewis wrote in a report received by Reuters on Monday.

Credit Suisse returned to an annual profit in 2018, its first since 2014, and had said rising pay reflected a job well done after restructuring, cost costs and a strategic shift toward more-stable wealth management from riskier investment banking.

“We take note of the recommendations put forward,” the bank said in response to Glass Lewis’s report. “Credit Suisse respects shareholder democracy.”

Reporting by John Miller and Oliver Hirt; Editing by Kirsten Donovan and Michael Shields

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