Naturgy saves the salary policy with the support of CriteriaCaixa

All the eyes of Naturgy's shareholders' meeting were yesterday on the sixth item on the agenda, which referred to the remuneration of the executive chairman, Francisco Reynés, and the rest of the board members.

Oliver Thansan
Oliver Thansan
02 April 2024 Tuesday 11:21
8 Reads
Naturgy saves the salary policy with the support of CriteriaCaixa

All the eyes of Naturgy's shareholders' meeting were yesterday on the sixth item on the agenda, which referred to the remuneration of the executive chairman, Francisco Reynés, and the rest of the board members. In recent days, speculation about a possible setback for the top of the company had increased and, although the vote was advisory, a defeat would have meant an amendment to its entire management. Finally, the energy company managed to go ahead with the vote with the support of CriteriaCaixa, its largest shareholder, which just a year ago abstained on the same point.

The investment arm of La Caixa wanted to express with its vote on this point and on the rest of the issues on the agenda its commitment as a "long-term investor" in Naturgy, of which it owns 27% of capital, and reiterated its "explicit support" for the transformation plan in which it is immersed. In addition, CriteriaCaixa also highlighted the energy shareholder remuneration policy, which generated 388 million in dividends in 2023.

The board's remuneration vote ended with 76% in favor and only 2% against. Of the reference investors, only the Australian fund IFM, the fourth shareholder with 15% of the capital, abstained. The percentage of support is significantly lower than that of other points that were voted on yesterday, although it is higher than that recorded last year, when it stood at 62%.

Before the vote, Reynés already had to give explanations about this matter and other governance matters, such as the request of some shareholders to appoint a chief executive officer, in the question period. "I am not the one who raises the salary or decides the corporate governance", assured the executive president, to remember that the council and the remuneration commission are the bodies that deal with these measures. "In 2023, the year of record profits, my remuneration fell by 7%", he replied.

Reynés obtained a remuneration of 5.46 million last year. Of this amount, the cash remuneration was 2.25 million, while the remuneration for savings systems rose to 3.05 million. He also received 154,000 euros for other items. In total, the council obtained a remuneration of 8.1 million.

The president of Naturgy also assessed the situation in the stock market, which has accumulated a fall of more than 24% since the beginning of the year. In his view, this drop is due to his exclusion from the MSCI indices because these lists are relevant to financial and algorithmic investors. "Belonging or not means an avalanche of purchases or sales", he said. The exclusion from the MSCI indices is due to the low free float of the company, which stands at 12%. Reynés emphasized that the little weight that Naturgy's small shareholders currently have is a consequence of having very important shareholders who "believe a lot" in the company", which leaves "little room" for floating capital.

On the other hand, the board approved a complementary dividend of 0.40 euros per share, with which a total dividend of 1.40 euros per share will be granted in 2023. During the session no the Gemini project was addressed. This initiative, presented two years ago, proposed dividing Naturgy into two listed companies, one focused on regulated infrastructure (energy transport and distribution) and another on liberalized businesses, including renewables.