Top U.S. Pension Funds Fuel Morgan Stanley Pay Row

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An influential investors' group representing assets of $3 trillion has added its voice to criticism of hefty guaranteed pay packages to former top staff at Morgan Stanley.

The Council of Institutional Investors, a lobbying group representing 130 fund managers, is understood to have written to Miles Marsh, lead independent director at Morgan Stanley, to raise its concerns.

Morgan Stanley is already under fire from other investors for remuneration including at least $40 million for departing chairman and chief executive Philip Purcell and $32 million for outgoing co-president Stephen Crawford, who had been in the job less than five months.

The Council of Institutional Investors' members include the Ford and General Motors U.S. pension plans, most leading U.S .state employee funds and the World Bank Staff Retirement Plan.

On July 19 the Central Laborers' Pension Fund, a relatively small Morgan Stanley shareholder that provides pension benefits to retired construction workers, filed a suit in Manhattan federal court against the board for what it called "years of gross mismanagement" and the windfall severance packages.

A day later California's state controller expressed alarm at what he called "extravagant" pay packages and urged the state's two largest pension funds, Calpers and Calstrs, to act.

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