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SL Green Shareholders Reject Pay Package For CEO

SL Green CEO Marc Holliday

SL Green shareholders rejected the company's 2016 compensation package for CEO Marc Holliday in a say-on-pay vote in June.

Holliday was set to pull in $17.3M for 2016 performance, which would be the most money given to a CEO of any REIT this year. Part of that package is a 30% increase to Holliday's base salary, which SL Green executives claim amounts to only $300K, according to SL Green executives. Only 43% of shareholders approved of the measure in the nonbinding vote, the Wall Street Journal reports.

SL Green is the largest owner of office properties in New York City, and one of the largest office REITs in the country, but its stock is down 5.2% compared to last year. REITs in general have seen weak performance recently, relative to the stock market, with office REITs only gaining an average of 0.6%.

Reflective of the tougher market conditions, Holliday's 2016 compensation of $17.6M would be a 24.8% decrease relative to 2015, which only passed by a narrow margin with shareholders. 

Three other REITs — Houston's Whitestone REIT and Newton, Massachusetts' Senior Housing Property Trust and Hospitality Properties Trust — have voted no on CEO packages this year, in an industry where about 90% of CEOs have high percentages of their compensation tied to shareholder return, far above the corporate average of 57%. The four "no" votes in REITs made up almost 14% of all "no" say-on-pay votes in the world this year, according to consulting firm FPL Associates.

SL Green's compensation committee chairman, John Alschuler Jr., the president of HR&A Advisors, told the Wall Street Journal that some shareholder trepidation could have been caused by Holliday's purchase of an ownership stake in SL Green's One Vanderbilt Tower, but disputed any claims of possible favoritism toward that property. Alschuler claimed that Holliday owns enough stock in the company as a whole that his primary focus would be on SL Green's overall performance.