UK Companies Switch to Listening Mode as Heat Rises on Top Pay

Oil major BP, miner Anglo American, pharmaceuticals group Shire and medical device company Smith & Nephew are among the FTSE 100 blue-chip groups gearing up for negotiations with shareholders after suffering large rebellions. “These groups need to recognise they will have to take action as there is an equality debate about the levels of executive pay, which a lot of people think are too high,” said Simon Walker, director-general of the Institute of Directors. He warned that if boards did not make changes, “there is a danger of more legislation that will not necessarily be helpful”. The level of dissent on pay has already matched the so-called shareholder spring of 2012, with about half of annual meetings still to come. There have been seven protest votes above 25 per cent on the non-binding remuneration reports among FTSE 100 groups, the same number as in 2012. Weir, the FTSE 250 engineering group that suffered a 72 per cent revolt in a new binding remuneration policy vote, BP, Shire and Anglo American have already been in contact with shareholders over how to address concerns on pay, reward structures and long-term bonus arrangements, say investors.

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