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Originally published June 22, 2013 at 12:06 AM | Page modified June 22, 2013 at 8:10 AM

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Investor uprising spurs Concur changes

Nearly 40 percent of shareholders voted against the company over executive pay, forcing the company to hold execs’ salaries flat in 2013.

Seattle Times business reporter

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About time. More companies stockholders should do the same. CEO pay is out of... MORE

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Last year, a big block of shareholders in Bellevue-based Concur Technologies did not concur with how it paid executives.

Nearly 40 percent of votes in the March 2012 say-on-pay ballot went against the company — even though the board had already slashed CEO Steven Singh’s $500,000 base salary to $1 the previous month and deemed him ineligible for a cash bonus.

Concur, which sells travel- and expense-management services, reacted to the investor uprising by deciding to hold all executive salaries flat in 2013.

The board also adopted a policy to align the CEO’s targeted total pay with the median pay of CEOs in a peer group. In the past, the board had pegged the CEO’s pay to the 90th percentile of a peer group.

And the board decided to link stock awards to “economic value added,” as measured in revenue and new customer contracts.

After the say-on-pay vote, Concur also embraced compensation practices favored by large proxy advisers, including:

• Caps on payouts to executives for meeting targets

• No automatic cash payments for severance or a change in control of the company

• Not paying “dividend equivalents,” or credits for dividends on unvested equity awards

• No special perks, including paying taxes on compensation.

In a letter to shareholders this year, Singh described the past year as “a tremendous success.”

Revenue grew 26 percent, pretax earnings per share was $1.39 and “new customer bookings were the highest in our history,” he wrote.

That, and Concur’s changes to its pay practices, still weren’t good enough for some stockholders: This past January, 18 percent of votes cast were against the executives’ pay.

Sanjay Bhatt: 206-464-3103 or sbhatt@seattletimes.com On Twitter @sbhatt

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