Bottom Line: Investors should bear in mind Bailey’s past

Michael Bow
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POOR Chris Bailey. No sooner had the Burberry man swapped his cutting scissors for an Excel spreadsheet than the marauding hordes of fund management came to rain on his £20m payday parade. Bailey is unusual among his FTSE 100 chief executive peers – and his generous pay award should arguably be viewed differently by shareholders. As chief creative officer, Bailey may have created more shareholder value at Burberry than his boss Angela Ahrendts, the former CEO. He was awarded 350,000 shares in December 2010 and a further 1m shares in July 2013 for his troubles, which he can cash in regardless of how Burberry performs in future. Investors are right to be wary of lavish pay and perks, but in the increasingly one-size-fits-all approach to pay adopted by fund managers subtleties can be lost. Bailey has made an unusual step in the corporate world, moving from the production side to the management executive side. Fashion creativity is a rare and valuable commodity. When its pay and perks are held up under the white hot light of shareholder scrutiny, however, it rapidly wilts. Bailey is unlikely to be awarded such excessive bonuses in future. If he is, shareholders should rightly vote them down as they would with any other FTSE 100 boss. But he should not be punished for accepting rewards tied to his former role designing clothes and handbags. Remuneration is a grey area, it is not black and white.

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