• General
  • May 3, 2021
  • 5 minutes read

Big Pay: AT&T Shareholders Vote Against Execs Pay

To bring back one of our most favorite sayings, “America is the land of many things, including very enormous executive…

AT&T logo

To bring back one of our most favorite sayings, “America is the land of many things, including very enormous executive pay”. Executives of publicly-traded companies in the US are familiar with very large compensation packages on a scale not seen in other countries, take recent examples including Palantir CEO Alex Karp landing a $1.1 billion payday and former T-Mobile CEO John Legere getting a $137 million severance pay.

But with all the large executive pay packages flying around, it appears that the shareholders of one public company are not okay with it and that company is telecoms giant AT&T. 


  • AT&T in a statement revealed that the majority of its shareholders voted not in favor of the compensation of its executive officers in 2020. Just under 49% of votes were cast in favor of the compensation, leaving the remaining majority 51%, not in favor. 
  • Last year, AT&T had large pay packages for its top brass including $21 million for CEO John Stankey and $52 million for the head of its WarnerMedia division, Jason Kilar. Kilar was brought in last year to help build AT&T into a streaming powerhouse competing with the likes of Netflix and Disney and received the highest pay at the company.
  • Other highly paid executives at AT&T last year include former CEO Randall Stephenson who earned $29 million, CFO John Stephens who got $16 million, and General Counsel David McAtee who got $19 million. Like most highly-paid executives, their pay came largely from equity and stock options awards.
  • One of the notable shareholders that voted not in favor of AT&T’s compensation plan is the Ontario Teachers’ Pension Plan. The majority vote against the plan is a symbolic one for large public companies like AT&T in recent times.
  • Though, the shareholders’ vote against AT&T’s compensation plan is non-binding and won’t affect the stated pay of the company’s executives for last year. However, it’s bound to provoke discussions between AT&T and its shareholders, and the company’s Chairman, William Kennard, said the board would “further engage with our owners on this important topic.”

Our take: AT&T reported $172 billion in revenue in 2020, down from $181 billion in 2019, and also reported a $5.4 billion net loss in 2020 compared to a profit of $14 billion in the previous year, so we can see a hint as to why its shareholders majorly voted against the pay packages of its executives.

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