Pfizer shareholders reject call to oust board members
Shareholders of pharmaceutical company Pfizer Inc. rejected a call recently to oust some members of the company''s board for approving a deal to pay its chief executive officer as much as $83 million when he retires, the Associated Press reports. Two proxy advising companies had called for removal of board members and the AFL-CIO led a protest against the retirement package. No board member received less than 78 percent of the vote for retention. Hank McKinnell, Pfizer''s chairman and chief executive, will qualify to collect the pension if he retires in 2008 at age 65, according to the company''s most recent proxy statement. His annual pension benefit would be $6.5 million, but McKinnell could opt for a lump-sum payment of more than $83 million. McKinnell''s pension package is the second largest of any CEO of an American company, according to the AFL-CIO. McKinnell, 63, has served as Pfizer''s chairman since May 2001 and as chief executive officer since January 2001. Opponents of McKinnell''s pension payout complain that Pfizer''s stock has fallen 44 percent since McKinnell took over in 2001.