Directors Are Selected at AOL Time Warner; Shareholders Demand Greater Say in Lagging Company; Bonuses OK'd for Executives

The Washington Times (Washington, DC), May 17, 2003 | Go to article overview

Directors Are Selected at AOL Time Warner; Shareholders Demand Greater Say in Lagging Company; Bonuses OK'd for Executives


Byline: Marguerite Higgins, THE WASHINGTON TIMES

AOL Time Warner Inc. shareholders yesterday elected all 13 nominees for its board of directors at the media conglomerate's annual meeting in Leesburg, Va., despite cries for greater shareholder power and directors with more independence.

The company also approved a bonus package for executives, a stock-incentive plan and ratification of Ernst & Young LLP as its independent auditor.

Investors voted down shareholder proposals for displaying salary disparity among workers.

They were angry that the chief executive earns $1 million a year at a company that has laid off about 7,000 workers since its January 2001 merger.

Questions from the roughly 500 shareholders in the ballroom of the Lansdowne Resort were directed toward Chief Executive Officer Richard Parsons' plans to revive the lagging company, particularly at America Online.

"I've watched my 400 shares lose 75 percent, and I bought them on the way down. The stock should be at $42 to $45, and I want to know why that's not so," investor Alma Hammer said.

Shareholder Scott Walker lodged a complaint against former Vice Chairman Ted Turner, who was elected to the board with 96 percent of the vote. Mr. Walker said Mr. Turner's anti-Christianity statements had made him a spectacle.

Mr. Parsons quickly defended Mr. Turner, calling him "a great asset that we're lucky to have." Mr. Turner did not comment after the meeting.

Several stockholders expressed frustration and anger over the company's accounting practices, which are being investigated by the Securities and Exchange Commission, and its floundering stock.

AOL Time Warner shares have dropped 25 percent on the New York Stock Exchange in the past year from $18.90 to $14. …

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