Sunday November 29th, 2015 6:09PM

Coca-Cola's pay for management under fire

By The Associated Press
NEW YORK (AP) -- An investment fund is taking issue with Coca-Cola's pay proposal for management, saying it represents a "raw deal" for shareholders in light of the beverage maker's slowing growth.

In a letter to Coca-Cola board members, Wintergreen Advisers CEO David Winters noted that Coca-Cola's equity plan would transfer roughly $13 billion to management over the next four years. His calculation was based on the current stock price and the company's proposal to issue a split-adjusted 340 million shares to its employees.

"No matter how well a management team performs, it is unfathomable that they would require such astronomical sums of money to provide motivation," Winters wrote.

He sent a similar letter to billionaire investor Warren Buffett, urging the longtime Coca-Cola shareholder to vote against the plan at the company's annual meeting April 23.

Coca-Cola Co., however, said the comments by Winters were "misinformed." The Atlanta-based company noted in the plan is consistent with its past practices and that management would have to meet certain performance targets to earn the full amount outlined.

It also noted that the plan covers about 6,400 employees. It's not clear how much would be allotted to top executives. But last year, CEO Muhtar Kent was given a pay package worth $18.2 million, according to an Associated Press calculation.

Kent's pay was down 16 percent from the previous year because Coca-Cola failed to meet its own growth targets.

By comparison, PepsiCo CEO Indra Nooyi was given a pay package worth $13.2 million. The Associated Press formula for executive compensation does not count changes in the present value of pension benefits, which makes its total slightly different in most cases from the total companies report to the Securities and Exchange Commission.

As for Wintergreen's point that the plan would dilute existing shares by 14.2 percent, Coca-Cola said that ignored the fact that the company buys back "significantly more stock than what is related to grants under our equity plan."

"Mr. Winters has pulled a single number out of the proxy without the right context," said Gloria Bowden, Coca-Cola's associate general counsel and secretary.

In a phone interview, Winters said the buybacks were put in place to benefit shareholders, not to cover pay for management. When asked about what type of response he'd gotten from Coca-Cola about this letter, Winters said, "They want their money."

Wintergreen Advisers, based in Milwaukee, owned about 2.5 million shares of Coca-Cola, according to a February regulatory filing. That is a stake of less than 1 percent.

Coca-Cola's plan was filed March 7 with the Securities and Exchange Commission.
© Copyright 2015
All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed without permission.
Judge denies motions to move, delay Tsarnaev trial
Lawyers for Boston Marathon bombing suspect Dzhokhar Tsarnaev asked a federal appeals court Wednesday to overturn a judge's decision to not move his upcoming trial out of state.
10:02PM ( 10 months ago )
High court to adopt electronic filing of cases
The Supreme Court is belatedly developing an electronic filing system similar to those used in courts around the country, Chief Justice John Roberts said Wednesday in his annual end-of-year report.
7:57PM ( 10 months ago )
Storm brings snow, cold to West for New Year's
A blustery winter storm dumped snow and ice across the West on Wednesday, making driving treacherous in the mountains from California to the Rockies and forcing residents and party-goers in some usually sun-soaked cities to bundle up for a frosty New Year's.
5:19PM ( 10 months ago )
U.S. News
State DOT awards $48M contract for NE Ga. road project
The state Department of Transportation has awarded a $47.8 million contract for nine miles of work on a northeast Georgia road.
9:37AM ( 10 months ago )
Business News
Grass fire impacts rush hour traffic on 985
Rush hour traffic on I-985 was slowed by a grass fire Wednesay afternoon with one lane closed while firefighters fought the blaze.
10:19PM ( 10 months ago )
Hall County conviction, sentencing to be reviewed by SCOGA
The State Supreme Court has agreed to hear the appeal of a Hall County man when they reconvene in January.
2:37PM ( 10 months ago )
Maysville man dies from Banks County wreck
The Georgia State Patrol reports that alcohol and/or drugs were factors a single-vehicle wreck that claimed the life of a Maysville man in Banks County Tuesday night.
11:07AM ( 10 months ago )
Local/State News
Standoff at Planned Parenthood ends with suspect's arrest; 3 killed, 9 wounded
COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. (AP) — A gunman who opened fire inside a Planned Parenthood clinic was arrested Friday after engaging in gun battles with authorities during an hourslong standoff that killed t...
1:13AM ( 1 day ago )
White House undergoes Thanksgiving Day lockdown after man draped in American flag jumps fence
WASHINGTON (AP) — A man draped in an American flag climbed over the fence at the White House on Thursday, prompting a lockdown as the first family celebrated Thanksgiving.The man was immediately appre...
10:11PM ( 2 days ago )
Obama grants reprieve to turkeys 'Honest' and 'Abe' during White House ceremony
WASHINGTON (AP) — President Barack Obama spared two turkeys named for one of the nation's most admired presidents, continuing a White House tradition that provides a refreshing sense of amusement and...
9:18PM ( 3 days ago )
The Latest: UN Security Council strongly condemns 'horrifying' attack in Mali, urges probe
BAMAKO, Mali (AP) — The latest on the attack on a hotel in the Malian capital of Bamako. (All times local):___4:55 a.m.The U.N. Security Council is condemning "the horrifying terrorist attack" at the...
10:58PM ( 1 week ago )
World leaders vow vigorous response to Paris terror spree, but little indication of next steps
ANTALYA, Turkey (AP) — World leaders vowed a vigorous response to the Islamic State group's terror spree in Paris as they opened a two-day meeting in Turkey on Sunday, with President Barack Obama call...
2:14PM ( 2 weeks ago )