QBE acknowledges shareholder unease

QBE says it has listened to dissatisfaction over executives’ pay packets as the insurance giant attempts to dissuade shareholders from handing the board a second strike at Thursday’s annual general meeting.

Chairman Marty Becker told investors in Sydney the company had acknowledged the unease over the new executive income plan introduced in 2017, replacing it with a more traditional short-term and long-term incentive plan.

The board faces a spill motion if 25 per cent or more of shareholders reject the remuneration report for a consecutive year.

Two pay-related resolutions are before investors at the meeting, one setting out incentive incomes for 2018 and one regarding a new remuneration framework for 2019.

QBE celebrated a healthier balance sheet in 2018 after a “more normal” catastrophe year and the exit of a number of underperforming businesses and portfolios.

The company swung to a $US390 million ($A546 million) full-year profit after attritional claims for the 12 months to December 31 were lower across all divisions compared to 2017, when it posted a $US1.25 billion loss following hurricanes and wildfires in the US.

But the insurer also faces a number of shareholder questions on Thursday regarding its climate change policy, following another 12 months of payouts above historical norms.

Chief executive Pat Regan said this was down to flooding in Queensland, the Sydney hailstorm in December and bushfires in Tasmania and Victoria.

Shareholders will vote on a motion asking QBE to expand on its decision to phase out its thermal coal underwriting business by 2030 by setting targets to phase out its exposure to all fossil fuels.

The board has recommended a vote against the resolution.

Mr Regan said QBE was not shying away from addressing increasingly volatile weather conditions.

“We consider climate change to be a material risk for your company and we are committed to playing our part in addressing this global challenge,” Mr Regan said.

AAP

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