Best Buy shareholders approve compensation packages, $20M for CEO

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The Richfield-based Best Buy Co. announced at its annual shareholders meeting Thursday that investors overwhelmingly approved the company’s executive compensation practices, including some $20 million in cash and stock given to CEO Hubert Joly.

The Star Tribune reports that 83 percent of shareholders approved the measure called "Say on Pay." Last week, the Strib says, the board of directors compensation committee sent a last-minute appeal to shareholders to vote yes. The board made its pitch after Institutional Shareholders Services, which advises shareholders on proxy matters, recommended no.

In approving the Say on Pay by a comfortable majority, shareholders spared Best Buy investors from rejecting their executive compensation an unprecedented two years in a row, the paper says. In 2012, shareholders voted down Say on Pay, mostly out of frustration with Best Buy’s decision to award former CEO Brian Dunn a generous exit package after he had resigned for alleged misconduct.

Last year, only 38 percent supported the "say on pay" resolution.

Best Buy gave 10 current and former executives compensation worth $63.6 million in its most recent fiscal year, the Minneapolis/St. Paul Business Journal reports, with new CEO Joly leading with the way with a deal worth $19.6 million.

The company's executive compensation has drawn mixed reviews, says the Journal.

The Strib says vote was "probably never in doubt" with the return of founder Richard Schulze to Best Buy as chairman emeritus.

Schulze, the company’s largest investor with 20 percent of Best Buy stock, had waged an unsuccessful campaign to buy back company. The board forced him to resign as chair after an investigation concluded Schulze withheld information about Dunn’s conduct. However, in February, Schulze dropped his bid and openly supported Joly’s leadership.

Chairman Hatim Tyabji made the point during the annual meeting as Schulze looked on in the front row.

“A year later, everything is different and happily everything has changed,” Tyabji said, according to the paper. “Our largest shareholder, Dick Schulze, has returned to the company. On a personal level, we welcome you back.”

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