SeaWorld Entertainment Inc. board chair failed to win re-election Wednesday in a dispute over incentive pay.
Chairman David D’Alessandro received more “withhold” votes than “for” votes at the annual meeting, a proxy voting result that means shareholders effectively voted him off the board, according to Reuters.
The board has 90 days to whether to keep D’Alessandro, SeaWorld said in a statement.
D’Alessandro, 66, had served as chairman since 2010. The former CEO of John Hancock Financial Services also serves as a board member of two Blackstone Group companies, Vivint and Vivint Solar.
In March, SeaWorld announced that China’s Zhonghong Zhuoye Group Co Ltd agreed to buy Blackstone Group’s 21 percent stake in the theme park operator for $23 per share, or $429 million.
The following month, SeaWorld disclosed in a securities filing, it would pay out bonuses to D’Alessandro, ex-CEO Jim Atchison and about 60 key employees, if SeaWorld achieved certain goals, including an investment return multiple of 2.75 times Blackstone’s invested capital.
The company said in a letter to shareholders prior to the annual meeting that after considering certain factors, including achieving 97 percent of the investment threshold, that it was appropriate for morale and employee retention to make the payouts.
Investors were upset that despite missing the target, SeaWorld still agreed to make the restricted share payouts.
Proxy adviser ISS recommended shareholders vote against SeaWorld’s compensation plans at the meeting, calling the restricted share payout “concerning” given the company’s poor financial performance, Reuters reported.
SeaWorld has reported declining attendance and revenues since the 2013 release of the documentary “Blackfish,” which criticized the company’s care of killer whales.
Shares of SeaWorld’s stocks have fallen by half since its 2013 Initial Public Offering (IPO). Following the vote, shares rose 6.7 percent to $17.07 per share.