Reckitt Benckiser board sees off protest over safety scandal

May 5 – Reuters – The board of Reckitt Benckiser survived a protest on Thursday that saw nearly 15 percent of shares voted against the reelection of its chairman and nearly 31 percent against the former head of its audit committee.

The British consumer goods company, which is trying to move on from a South Korean safety scandal, said 85.3 percent of shares were voted in support of Chairman Adrian Bellamy, while 14.7 percent were against.

Shareholder advisory firm Institutional Shareholder Services (ISS) had recommended abstaining in the vote on Reckitt’s long-standing chairman, saying last month he bore ultimate responsibility for the governance of the company and the effectiveness of its board.

“Events in South Korea with Oxy RB raise important questions on both these fronts,” ISS said in a report.

The South Korean government has said that 92 people were believed to have died from lung injuries related to humidifier sterilizers once sold there by Reckitt’s unit, Oxy RB, and others.

ISS also recommended voting against the reelection as a director of Kenneth Hydon, who was chair of the audit committee during the period in question. Reckitt said late on Thursday that 30.8 percent of shares were voted against Hydon, while 69.2 percent were voted in support.

The directors’ remuneration report saw 12.6 percent of shares voted in opposition. The company had cut the 2016 pay package of Chief Executive Rakesh Kapoor in light of the scandal.

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