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Pfizer to invite shareholder input

June 29, 2007|From Times Wire Services

Pfizer Inc. said Thursday that its board would invite the drug maker's largest shareholders to a meeting this fall to discuss corporate governance issues including executive pay.

Plans for the meeting, which Pfizer said would become a regular event, were probably prompted by investor discontent with an almost $200-million package given to Hank McKinnell when he was replaced as chief executive last summer, said Howard Sherman, CEO of corporate governance research firm GovernanceMetrics International.

"This is truly noteworthy because it is rare for outside shareholders to have any communication with the board," he said. "And on governance matters, it all comes down to the board."

During McKinnell's tenure as CEO, Pfizer's stock price declined 40%.

Pfizer may be setting the stage to allow its shareholders to vote on executive compensation packages, Sherman said.

In recent decades, Pfizer has spearheaded corporate governance initiatives including a requirement that directors be elected by a majority vote of shareholders.

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