Novartis shareholders today agreed to the Board of Directors' recommendations for all proposed resolutions at the Group's Annual General Meeting (AGM). A total of 1,731 shareholders were present at the meeting held in Basel, representing approximately 62.6% of the issued shares of Novartis.
Shareholders approved the 21st consecutive dividend increase per share since the creation of Novartis in 1996, with an increase of 2% to CHF 2.80 for 2017. Payment for the 2017 dividend will be made on March 8, 2018. The dividend for 2017 is an approximately 67% payout of free cash flow, reinforcing the Company's commitment to a strong dividend yield.
Annual re-election and election of Members of the Board
Shareholders re-elected Dr. Joerg Reinhardt as Chairman of the Board of Directors, and all members of the Board, for one year. Dr. Pierre Landolt did not stand for re-election having reached the age limit as specified in the Articles of Incorporation. The Board of Directors sincerely thanks him for his valuable contributions to the long term strategy of Novartis and in particular for his high level of personal commitment in the area of Social Responsibility.
In addition, shareholders re-elected the following members of the Board of Directors to the Compensation Committee for one year: Srikant Datar, Ph.D., Ann Fudge, Enrico
Vanni, Ph.D. and William T. Winters. The Committee will be chaired by Mr. Vanni.
In line with the Board of Director's recommendation, shareholders also approved the cancelation of 66,220,000 shares repurchased on the second trading line under the seventh share repurchase program in the financial year 2017 and to reduce the share capital accordingly by CHF 33,110,000, from CHF 1,308,422,410 to CHF 1,275,312,410.
Votes on Compensation for the members of the Board of Directors and the Executive Committee
In two separate binding votes, shareholders approved the total maximum amount of compensation for the members of the Board of Directors covering the period from the 2018 AGM to the 2019 AGM and the total maximum amount of compensation for the members of the Executive Committee for 2019.
Shareholders also endorsed the 2017 Compensation Report in an advisory vote. It contained enhanced disclosures in many areas providing greater transparency. The report also informed stakeholders of prospective changes to the compensation system. These are based on the constructive feedback received from shareholders, our business strategy, and developing market practice.