News Column

Sir John Peace suffers hat-trick of shareholder revolts

July 17, 2014

Jill Treanor,

Serial boardroom director Sir John Peace has suffered a hat-trick of rebellions by shareholders at the three FTSE 100 firms he chairs after investors in Experian vented their anger over the succession planning at the credit-checking company.

After Peace chaired his last annual meeting of Experian - the company he founded more than 30 years ago - it was announced that 30% of investors had failed to support the election to the board of his successor, Don Robert.

The revolt followed the intervention of the Institute of Directors, which warned that Robert's appointment to chairman breached City governance codes, which stipulate that chief executives should not step up to the crucial role of chairman in the same company.

Robert created Experian with Peace and has been chief executive since it was spun out of GUS in 2006 and floated on the stock market.

Around 11% of investors voted against Robert's re-election to the board but if deliberate abstentions are included opposition rises to 30%. Company directors usually expect much higher endorsement by their shareholders, as was the case for the other directors on the Experian board who were elected with around 98% support.

Peace did not stand for election to the board but chaired the annual meeting in Dublin, the third meeting of a FTSE 100 company he has chaired during this AGM season. It is also the third rebellion: at Standard Chartered 41% of investors voted against the pay deals for its management team while atBurberry last week almost 53% of investors voted against the pay report.

Just a handful of investors attended the meeting in Dublin, with the drama demonstrated in the votes which had been cast ahead of the meeting by major institutional investors.

Much of the focus at Experian had been on succession planning, where Peace had previously said he would quit as chairman in 2009 after being named chairman of Standard Chartered although he stayed on after failing to find a successor.

His successor was finally named in January this year when Experian said it would elevate Robertafter the agm.

There was also a smaller revolt about pay after 15% of investors failed to support the remuneration report. Robert has received 45m in five years.

The son of Nottingham coalminer, Peace has become part of the City establishment after first attending Sandhurst before founding the company that was to become Experian, as part of GUS. Experian was demerged from the retail conglomerate GUS, as was Burberry.

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Source: Guardian Web

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