UniCredit investors back new term for Orcel, support pay rise

By Thomson Reuters Apr 12, 2024 | 10:14 AM

MILAN (Reuters) – UniCredit shareholders on Friday voted to give CEO Andrea Orcel another three-year mandate and backed the remuneration policy that makes him one of Europe’s best-paid bankers.

Shareholders representing 68.8% of the bank’s capital attended the meeting, with U.S. asset manager BlackRock and German insurer Allianz the top two investors.

“I don’t take my position for granted. I see it as something that you have to continually earn,” Orcel said in written remarks to shareholders.

“We have made excellent progress in the last three years, but our transformation journey is not over … We will be relentless in our determination to improve. This is the culture I want to spread across all levels of our group during my second term as CEO,” he added.

Orcel and the other board candidates put forward by the bank’s outgoing directors got 91.5% of votes, UniCredit said.

Shareholders representing 88% of the share capital entitled to vote at the meeting backed UniCredit’s 2024 remuneration policy, which had drawn criticism from leading proxy adviser Glass Lewis.

Following a clarification requested to the European Banking Authority over how to calculate the price of shares assigned as part of pay packages to the bank’s 800 so-called material risk takers, UniCredit has increased the CEO’s fixed pay by 10.8%, payable in shares.

The fixed pay now stands at 3.6 million euros, with the overall target pay standing at 8.6 million from 7.5 million and the maximum pay, which applies when targets are surpassed, reaching up to 10.8 million euros.

A former investment banker, Orcel has bet on an outsized cashback to investors as the way to lift UniCredit’s share price, which has almost close a discount to book value that amounted to 70% when the CEO took over in 2021.

Europe’s most experienced banking dealmaker, Orcel has shied away so far from major deals, saying he would only move if he can preserve current shareholder returns while boosting profitability by at least 10%.

(Reporting by Valentina Za; editing by David Evans)