Universal Music Group Shareholders Approve Chairman Lucian Grainge’s $150 Million Compensation Package

UMG shareholders approve lucian grainge's $150 million compensation package
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UMG shareholders approve lucian grainge's $150 million compensation package
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Photo Credit: Luke Harold

Universal Music Group shareholders approved Lucian Grainge’s $150 million compensation package at the company’s annual general meeting of shareholders on Thursday.

Today (May 16), Universal Music Group announced the results of its Annual General Meeting of Shareholders (AGM) held earlier in the day. Among the resolutions addressed on the AGM agenda included the adoption of the 2023 financial statements, the approval of CEO Sir Lucian Grainge’s approximate $150 million compensation package, and the re-appointment of non-executive directors including Bill Ackman, Cyrille Bolloré, and executive director Vincent Vallejo.

Shareholders approved Lucian Grainge’s compensation package from 2023 of at least 138.8 million euro ($128 million) — thought to ultimately fall into the $150 million range — in a nonbinding advisory vote at the company’s annual meeting in The Netherlands. That number includes Grainge’s 2023 base salary, bonus, and a significant one-time transition equity award.

As the shareholder votes are nonbinding and advisory, they merely reflect investor sentiment rather than an enforced change — but these votes are a key indicator of investor sentiment across the board. That said, shareholders have expressed criticism of UMG regarding its pay practices and board independence, yet they ultimately voted in favor of the new proposals.

UMG shareholders also voted in favor of re-appointing board members Bill Ackman (Pershing Square Capital Management), Cyrille Bolloré, and other non-executive directors, despite the overarching criticism regarding board independence.

Around 58% of UMG’s voting shares are held by Ackman’s Pershing Square, Tencent, Bolloré, and Vivendi. Last year, all four voted to approve UMG’s remuneration policy, which passed by a relatively narrow margin of 59%. The exact percentage of votes this year was not immediately disclosed.

Meanwhile, UMG’s shareholders’ and shareholder advisory group Glass Lewis’ recent criticism of the company’s pay practices, which they called excessive, are pretty on-trend. Investors in Cumulus Media and Live Nation also voted their disapproval of those companies’ CEO pay packages during recent shareholder meetings.

Grainge’s 2023 compensation is said to be 138,814,000 euros, or $128,264,000 based on the monthly average foreign exchange rate. Last year, his base salary was 7.5 million euros ($8 million), with a bonus of 15.16 million euros (over $16.2 million) and a one-time transition equity of 92,406,852 euros (around $100 million). That amount was paid out half in restricted stock units and half in performance stock options, the latter of which vest over the coming five years, and can only be excised once UMG’s stock reaches certain thresholds.

In 2022, Grainge was the third highest paid music executive, having received compensation of 47.3 million euros ($49.7 million), thanks in part to a 28.8 million euros ($30.3 million) performance bonus. Of course, that’s in addition to his base salary of 15.4 million euros ($16.2 million).