Daily Telegraph: UK company directors expenses

A trawl of executive contracts reveals that million-pound pay and bonus deals are merely pocket money for the bosses of Britain’s FTSE 100, as they enjoy special pension arrangements, second-home allowances and most day-to-day costs covered by their companies.
 
What becomes apparent after a trawl of contracts provided by proxy-voting group Manifest is that much of an executive’s day-to-day cost is met by the company, leaving their million-pound pay deals as pocket money.… Read the rest

Europe’s in chains

Whilst it’s pretty certain that Tina Arena didn’t have the travails of institutional investors in mind when she sang her smash hit “I’m In Chains”, it captures pleas that may have more resonance in such circles than the song itself.

Lines such as “A little click and the lock’s on me”, “can’t lift my hands” and “I pretend I can always leave, free to go whenever I please” reflect quite accurately the plight of investors caught by share blocking requirements, forced to have their votes sent through a custodial voting platform they’ve not chosen and have no control over, constrained by administrative hoops which are as prohibitive in their effect as they are outdated.… Read the rest

Goodwin to repay pension

Breaking news reports from Sky this morning suggested that Sir Fred Goodwin was considering repaying part of his controversial £703,000 per annum pension.

Sky’s Business Editor Jeff Randall said: “I understand that the Government, through UKFI and the Royal Bank of Scotland, are preparing a statement saying that Sir Fred Goodwin will be making a concession on his pension, giving some of that enormous pension back.”

RBS has now confirmed the position and at 13:00 hrs made an official announcement through the Regulatory News Service of London Stock Exchange stating that Goodwin has volunteered to make a substantial reduction to his pension which will now be£342,500.… Read the rest

DCC makes Irish say-on-pay history

DCC plc have become the first Irish-incorporated company listed on the Irish Stock Exchange to include an advisory say-on-pay resolution on the agenda for the annual general meeting. In proposing the resolution, proposed on a voluntary basis as a management-sponsored proposal, the Company has set a new gold standard for Irish companies to aspire to in terms of AGM best practice.… Read the rest

Shareholders ask for the strangest things….

Japan is famed in the West for many stereotype images, cherry blossom, salary men, overcrowded commuter trains and for those of us in the world of governance, a chaotic proxy season. But back to the commuter crush. Many Japanese women choose to commute in female-only carriages during rush hour to avoid being groped by men. … Read the rest

Northern Rock shareholders High Court challenge

Former Northern Rock shareholders are challenging the UK government’s nationalisation terms in the British courts claiming that the Treasury’s conditions will result in little or no compensation. The case, which is expected to run for three days, is being brought by SRM Global, RAB Capital, and a group of private shareholders with the support of Legal & General, the Rock’s  third-largest institutional shareholder.… Read the rest

US shareholders “wrongly denied proxy access”

US Congressman Barney Frank’s Financial Services Committee has started its deliberations on the problem of executive pay. A total of eight witnesses including former Chief Accountant, U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission, Lynn Turner and noted academics Lucien Bebchuk and Kevin Murphy were on hand to present their testimony.… Read the rest

IASB under fire from EU

The IASB has been defending it’s work to politicians, again.
International Accounting Standards Board chairman Sir David Tweedie was called to account this week at a meeting of European ministers in Luxembourg.  Discussing the IASB’s review of the controversial fair-value and impairment rules in the wake of the banking crisis, Sir David said that he recognised the “absolute urgency of the project” with assurances to “move swiftly to ensure appropriate input” and confirmed that the project was on track for completion by the end of the year.… Read the rest

AGMs: US investors looking for timely results

US investors concerned about the delays in the official announcements of voting results are not waiting for the SEC or New York Stock Exchange to make new rules but are taking matters into their own hands. Just as in Europe, best practice about voting results disclosure is extremely variable but proposals submitted by the New York City Pension Funds asking some companies to speed up the release of voting results appear to be making their mark.… Read the rest

DataCash misses the point

Times City diarist Martin Waller asks “Is this the most spectacularly incompetent annual meeting ever?” referring to DataCash plc’s 10th June AGM which sought authorities for share issues and dis-application of pre-emption rights significantly outside the best practice guidelines.

Martin tells us that “The company was forced to issue a shamefaced note yesterday admitting that shareholders had allowed it to issue half a million quid in shares, when it had meant to ask for only £50,000.… Read the rest

US Treasury announces ‘Pay Czar’

The US  Treasury has announced the appointment of  a “special master” to oversee executives’ compensation at U.S. companies receiving large amounts of government aid, with the power to reject pay plans deemed excessive. Kenneth Feinberg, a lawyer who oversaw payments to families of victims of the Sept.… Read the rest

Australia investigates excessive pay practices

The public inquiry into the regulatory framework around remuneration of directors and executives of companies regulated under Australia’s  Corporations Act continues and a draft report is in preparation. Some 79 initial submissions have received by the Productivity Commission inquiry. Public hearings will be held in Sydney, Melbourne and Brisbane during June and July 2009.… Read the rest