FirstFT: Norwegian oil fund denounces ‘corporate greed’ over executive pay

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The world’s largest sovereign wealth fund has attacked “corporate greed” and excessive pay for “mediocre performance” and vowed to take action against the worst offenders.

Nicolai Tangen, chief executive of Norway’s $ 1.2tn oil fund, told the Financial Times that it would target large salary packages that were not justified, were opaque or insufficiently long-term.

“We are in an inflationary environment, where we are seeing many companies with pretty mediocre performance coming out with very big pay packages. We are seeing corporate greed reaching a level that we have not seen before, and it’s really becoming very costly for shareholders in terms of dilution, ”he said.

The oil fund, which owns the equivalent of 1.5 per cent of every listed company in the world, voted against executive pay at Intel’s annual meeting this week and at Apple in March.

The fund has also voted this year against IBM, citing consistently high pay despite the company’s disappointing performance, General Electric for a complex and untransparent pay package and Harley-Davidson, saying it had not presented a compelling business case for offering higher salaries than competitors.

Thanks for reading FirstFT Europe / Africa. Here’s the rest of the day’s news – George

The latest on the war in Ukraine

Military briefing: can Ukraine push out the Russian army? Some former Ukrainian officials believe the country’s army could force Russian troops to leave before the end of the year, including from the eastern Donbas region. “If we had everything we needed by June, we could get them out by October,” said Andriy Zagorodnyuk, a former defense minister.

A Ukrainian Army tank in a training exercise near Kryvyi Rih, Ukraine, last week

A Ukrainian Army tank in a training exercise last week © John Moore / Getty Images

1. UK warns EU has ‘no choice’ on Northern Ireland The UK is heading for a clash with Brussels over plans to bring forward legislation to scrap parts of the Brexit deal after talks over Northern Ireland’s trading rules ended in deadlock and recrimination. UK foreign secretary Liz Truss said on Thursday that Britain would have “no choice but to act”.

2. BoE censored by senior Tories over soaring inflation Senior Conservative MPs have turned on the Bank of England over its handling of inflation, rare public criticism of how the central bank in doing its core job. The party of UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson has been criticized over its handling of the intensifying cost of living crisis.

3. Warner Music and BMG battle for Pink Floyd back catalog The British rock group Pink Floyd, known for hits such as “Money” and “Shine On You Crazy Diamond”, could soon be $ 500mn richer, with Warner Music and KKR-backed BMG competing to buy the band’s back catalog, according to people familiar with the matter.

4. Dubai’s workers struggle with cost of living crisis Food delivery riders for Talabat, a unit of Germany’s Delivery Hero, have gone on an illegal strike to protest over low wages as the rising cost of living sparks unrest among the poorest workers in the Gulf entrepôt that is a playground for some of the world’s richest people.

5. Venture capitalists seek big returns with NFTs Venture capitalists are plowing millions into digital art, virtual land and online collectibles, the new frontier for investors seeking big returns in crypto. Digital items known as non-fungible tokens burst into mainstream culture last year, quickly becoming a multibillion-dollar market.

  • More on digital assets: The $ 1.3tn cryptocurrency industry was hit by one of its toughest challenges when the stablecoin Tether failed to maintain its link with the US dollar. Here’s why Tether is central to the global crypto market.

Line chart of $ per token showing Tether loses its $ 1 peg

The latest coronavirus news

A man works in a WeWork office

WeWork said it accounted for 39% of all office leasing in the first quarter in London, a city it said was ‘leading the shift to flex’ working © Jason Alden / Bloomberg

The day ahead

Eurozone: The EU will issue March industrial production figures and France releases April CPI data.

Russia: The impact of sanctions on Russia’s economy will be laid bare when gross domestic product and inflation figures are published.

Results: Banca Generali, Deutsche Telekom and Sage will report results. In Japan, Honda, Mazda and Toshiba will also report earnings. More on what’s coming up today and this weekend in our Week Ahead newsletter.

Join us in person or online at the FT Business of Luxury Summit on May 18-20 to hear from luxury leaders including British Vogue, Valentino, YSL and Zegna.

What else we’re reading

Democracy might be in crisis. But autocracy certainly is ‘Crisis of democracy’ is a cliché of our time. But what about the even more consequential crisis of autocracy? Just watch the meltdowns in China, Russia, Turkey and arguably Africa’s biggest authoritarian state, Ethiopia, writes Simon Kuper.

Dublin can no longer treat Irish unity as a distant aspiration With a new generation in Ireland squeezed by inflation and an acute housing shortage, the days when Sinn Féin represented the ballot box placed alongside the IRA’s Armalite are ancient history. But to be clear, Philip Stephens writes, Irish unity is not suddenly around the corner.

Space station shows adversaries should collaborate The International Space Station is the world’s most expensive and successful infrastructure project. This, says Sinead O’Sullivan of Harvard Business School, is a landmark example of the strategic deployment of “co-opetition”: collaborating with competitors to achieve goals you could not achieve alone.

  • More from space: Astronomers have unveiled the first images of the closest black hole to Earth, located at the center of the Milky Way.

Inflation: managing the threat to your pension The big losers from inflation are fixed-interest investments such as gilts – a core holding in British pension funds, John Plender writes. The capital value and income stream shrinks in real terms and tends to underperform equities when price levels are rising fast.

Business understands the cost of living crisis better than politicians The Queen’s Speech this week paved the way for dozens of forthcoming bills but there was precious little to address soaring household bills, Claer Barrett writes. A lack of measures to combat surging inflation has left the government looking like it has run out of ideas, or simply does not care.

Food

Come summer, tourists flock to Stow-on-the-Wold, swelling the population of the picturesque hillside market town situated in a corner of the Cotswolds. Its souvenir shops do brisk business, but Andrew and Jesse D’Ambrosi, owners of the town’s eponymous fine food store, have never been interested in taking a major slice of this pie.

Jesse and Andrew D'Ambrosi in the store

Jesse and Andrew D’Ambrosi in their store © Lesley Lau

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