BT Group PLC (LON:BT.A) saw over a third of shareholders vote against its remuneration report at the telecoms giant’s annual general meeting on Wednesday as it vowed to engage with shareholders to understand their opposition to directors’ pay.
In a statement, the FTSE 100-listed firm said 34.2% - or 2.29bn - of the valid votes cast at the AGM were against the approval of its remuneration report.
Although the remaining 65.8% - or 4.42bn - valid votes were in favour of the report, a further 235.8mln shares withheld their votes.
At its 2017 AGM shareholder vote, investors voted 96.8% in favour and just 3.2% against the remuneration report.
BT said it was "naturally disappointed with the lower level of support received for our Remuneration Report for the year ending 31 March 2018.”
It added: “Historically, both the remuneration report and our remuneration policy have received overwhelming shareholder support and over the past two weeks we have been in dialogue with our major shareholders and proxy advisers to discuss their questions and concerns.”
Says understands lower level of support
BT continued: "We understand that the lower level of support for the remuneration report is, in the most part, attributable to the annual bonus payment to BT's chief executive for the financial 2018 performance year.
"During the remainder of 2018 we will engage further with our shareholders and proxy advisers to understand in full detail the reasons for their concerns and whether we should consider any changes to our longer-term approach to remuneration."
In early June, BT’s chief executive officer Gavin Patterson announced he would step down later in 2018 after five years in the role.
Earlier in that month, shareholders had called for a meeting to discuss Patterson's future at the firm.
Back in May, BT announced that it would axe approximately 13,000, mainly middle-management jobs over the next three years and move its headquarters out of central London as part of its restructuring plans to cut £1.5bn of costs within three years.
The May strategy changes came as the group also reported its full-year results showing a 3% drop in fourth-quarter revenue to £5.967bn, just missing analysts' expectations, while core earnings rose by 1% to £2.083bn.
In afternoon trading on Wednesday, BT shares were 0.1% lower at 227.2p.