Caisse investing further in electric vehicle charging network

A majority (77 per cent) of Tesla Inc. shareholders voted in support of restoring the landmark US$44.9 billion all-stock pay package for chief executive officer Elon Musk, despite public calls against the compensation by a pension fund and a sovereign wealth fund, according to a report by the Associated Press.

The shareholder vote, held at the company’s annual meeting last Thursday, showed the strong support investors have placed in Musk’s vision for the electric vehicle maker.

The 10-year pay plan was first approved by the board and shareholders back in 2018. However, it has been held back due to a Delaware judge blocking the compensation in January as a result of a shareholder lawsuit. Despite the new approval by shareholders, Musk and Tesla will have to appeal the decision by the judge.

Read: Employers paying out executive bonuses can avoid criticism by embracing transparency

A few days before the official shareholder vote, Christopher Ailman, chief investment officer at the California State Teachers’ Retirement System, told CNBC they were against the considerable compensation package and would vote against it. He added that he admires Musk but asked him to focus on one of his numerous ventures.

“This is a company that has not grown in the last two years, is barely making money per car itself,” said Ailman. “He needs to focus in either on cars, on X or on going to Mars. And I think his heart really is in going to Mars and getting off the planet.”

Similarly, Norway’s sovereign wealth fund operated by Norges Bank Investment Management, said it was voting against the pay package. “While we appreciate the significant value generated under Mr. Musk’s leadership since the grant date in 2018, we remain concerned about the total size of the award, the structure given performance triggers, dilution, and lack of mitigation of key person risk,” it said in a public statement issued on its website. “We will continue to seek constructive dialogue with Tesla on this and other topics.”

In the lead up to last week’s vote, two shareholder advisory firms — Institutional Shareholder Services Inc. and Glass, Lewis & Co. — had recommended for shareholders to vote against the pay package, according to a report by the Associated Press.

Read: Virtual-only meetings erode shareholder democracy: institutional investor group