Eight blue-chips top official list of shame after suffering shareholder revolts on executive pay

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Companies in the FTSE 100 to have suffered a bloody nose include a DIY chain, a bank and a tech firm, in a damning indictment of how widespread corporate excess has become
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Eight blue-chips top official list of shame after suffering shareholder revolts on executive pay

Eight blue-chip firms have earned a place on an official list of shame after suffering shareholder revolts on executive pay.

Companies in the FTSE 100 to have suffered a bloody nose include a DIY chain, a bank and a tech firm, in a damning indictment of how widespread corporate excess has become.

And it reveals growing pressure from investors after years of fury over the massive sums on offer.

Companies in the FTSE 100 to have suffered a bloody nose include a DIY chain, a bank and a tech firm, in a damning indictment of how widespread corporate excess has become

Former prime minister Theresa May introduced a register of the worst offenders on executive pay, maintained by The Investment Association trade body. 

It lists firms where 20 per cent or more shareholders oppose bosses’ earnings at their annual meeting.

This year’s biggest offender was tech company Micro Focus, where half its investors voted down its pay deal.

It gave top bosses an extra year to hit targets, allowing them to share in a £286million bonus bonanza when a botched takeover caused the share price to slide.

Investors judged that the move was a ruse to allow directors – including executive chairman Kevin Loosemore, who has been paid £27.9million since 2011 – to cash in.

Savings and investment firm Standard Life and warehouse company Segro each suffered revolts of more than 40 per cent.

At Ocado, a quarter of shareholders voted against boss Tim Steiner’s bonus of up to £100million over five years, which he will receive if the share price triples. 

JD Sports had a pay revolt of over 30 per cent as shareholders voiced their fury at Peter Cowgill’s £2.6million package. 

Others hit by rebellions include Barclays, where boss Jes Staley suffered a 29.2 per cent vote against due to sky-high contributions towards his pension.

At DIY chain Kingfisher, Veronique Laury – who is set to leave the business – was hit by a 24.2 per cent opposition vote. And IT firm Aveva’s boss Craig Hayman endured a 21 per cent revolt over his £7.3million pay.

Luke Hildyard, of the High Pay Centre, said: ‘Even investors are now losing patience with the vastly disproportionate payments. Boards should heed this warning from shareholders.’

Nick Dawson, of shareholder advice firm Proxy Insight, said: ‘While many public companies have heeded the warning from investors on pay there are clearly others who are underestimating shareholder sentiment.’

The number of FTSE 100 companies facing revolts of more than 20 per cent has doubled in the past five years, data from Proxy Insight showed, despite average pay packets for the bosses of Britain’s biggest firms falling to £4.6million last year, from £5.7million in 2017.

Shareholders have been urged by politicians and campaigners to be more assertive on pay, saying massive bonanzas undermine companies’ public image and trust in business.

Across the FTSE all-share index of around 600 companies, 40 firms experienced pay revolts of more than 20 per cent this year to date. In 2018 the number was 47.

 

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