Goldman Sachs Group Inc
The private discussions are a first for Goldman, whose employees are on track to earn an average of $700,000 apiece this year. The meetings began in October and are expected to last several more weeks, the Journal reported, citing shareholders and company officials. In many cases, Goldman President and Chief Operating Officer Gary Cohn or Chief Financial Officer David Viniar have attended these meetings.
Goldman officials described the meetings as an effort to explain why the pay levels are reasonable in light of the company's performance and to get key stakeholders' feedback.
The meetings are a constructive first step, and the next logical action would be for Goldman to proactively consider putting its compensation policies to a vote of shareholders, Hye-Won Choi, head of corporate governance at TIAA-CREF, which owns about $1 billion of Goldman shares, told the Journal.
Five shareholder proposals have been submitted to Goldman, including three related to compensation. One proposal considered likeliest to pass gives shareholders a nonbinding vote on executive pay and requires Goldman to disclose more details about how executives are paid, the Journal said.
A similar proposal in 2008 got 46 percent of the shareholder vote, according to the Journal. The board of directors had opposed the 2008 say-on-pay proposal.
It would create a cloud, a constraint, a limitation on decisions that have been at the heart of what a board has done, Goldman Chairman and Chief Executive Lloyd Blankfein said in the Journal article.
A call to Goldman was not immediately returned.
(Reporting by Deepa Seetharaman; editing by Carol Bishopric)