News Column

There's no peace for Sir John as investor rebellion spreads

July 17, 2014

By James Salmon and Rob Davies, Daily Mail, London

July 17--Shareholders dealt yet another bloody nose to Experian chairman Sir John Peace, amid a wave of rebellion that also engulfed transport firm FirstGroup and water group Severn Trent.

FTSE 100 credit checker Experian (down 2p to 1027p) suffered a backlash against its decision to anoint chief executive Don Robert to replace outgoing chairman Peace.

Almost 30pc of shareholders failed to back Robert's move, which falls foul of UK corporate governance guidelines.

Peace, pictured, has now faced three shareholder rebellions as a chairman in as many months.

Investors in Burberry last week voted against share awards worth around pounds sterling 20m that were granted to new chief executive Christopher Bailey.

More than 40pc of shareholders at Standard Chartered rejected its new pay structure last month.

Experian's decision to elevate Robert drew criticism from the Institute of Directors.

IoD corporate governance adviser Oliver Parry said: 'The board is meant to provide independent oversight of the company. In the absence of a truly independent chairman, doubts will remain about whether the board can deliver this.'

Experian also suffered a revolt over pay, with holders of 14pc of the shares voting against pay packages granted to directors.

Robert has scooped around pounds sterling 45m over the past five years through his annual pay deals and long-term incentive awards.

FirstGroup (up 4.3p to 132.5p) promised to review its pay policy after some 31pc of investors failed to back boss Tim O'Toole's pay, which almost doubled to pounds sterling 2m last year.

A spokesman for activist investor and 3.1pc shareholder Sandell, a vehement critic of FirstGroup's pay, said the voting figures 'speak for themselves'.

Water giant Severn Trent (down 4p to 1918p) saw 5pc of investors refuse to back its pay scheme for new chief executive Liv Garfield, who was poached from BT with a pounds sterling 2.4m long-term share bonus.

Some 5pc of shareholders also voted against Garfield's appointment.


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Source: Daily Mail (London, England)

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