AMC Entertainment shareholders have sent a message to the company’s CEO, Adam Aron, by voting decisively to reject his compensation package.
In an SEC filing, the company said the vote yesterday at the company’s shareholder meeting was conducted “on a non-binding advisory basis,” meaning it doesn’t compel AMC to take any action.
Aron’s total pay fell to $18.9 million in 2021 from $20.9 million in 2020. Given a chance to weigh in on the compensation of Aron and his C-suite colleagues, however, the holders of 86.9 million shares voted against it, with 52.1 million in favor and 5.9 million abstaining.
Executive compensation in the media sector has continued to be among the richest in corporate America, but shareholders have not taken many significant steps to curtail it, at least through formal channels. The 2021 paydays of Warner Bros Discovery CEO David Zaslav and Endeavor Group CEO Ari Emanuel did prompt a lot of rumblings by soaring into nine-figure territory, but no official protests have gained traction among shareholders.
Aron is nowhere near the heights of the broader media industry, though his pay is well north of others in exhibition. Cinemark CEO Sean Gamble, for example, netted $3.1 million in 2021. Aron has gotten high marks in some corners, though, for steering AMC through the hellfires of Covid, with the circuit already weighed down by debt and a plunging share price even before the pandemic.
The CEO deployed a number of financial maneuvers along the way and caught a break from the strong buy-in of retail investors caught up in the mania over meme stocks like AMC, GameStop and others. Private equity firm Silver Lake and other large investors in the company sold their entire stakes last year after the company’s stock price ballooned with Covid vaccines rolling out and theaters reopening. Individual shareholders became the largest faction of the exhibitor’s base.
Before his arrival at AMC, Aron ran the NBA’s Philadelphia 76ers, Vail Resorts and Norwegian Cruise Line.