Barclays mulls plans to freeze chief executive Jes Staley's £8m a year pay as investors reach breaking point over bumper deals

Hayley Kirton
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After last year, many companies are likely keen to avoid a shareholder spring (Source: Getty)

Barclays is considering freezing its chief executive's maximum pay at £8m for the next three years, in a bid to dodge fallout from a potential shareholder spring.

According to Sky News, which first reported the story, the chair of the bank's remuneration committee has briefed leading investors on plans to keep salary and incentives for Jes Staley, who took over at the helm of the bank in December 2015, unchanged from 2017 to 2019.

Barclays declined to comment.

The news comes as investors are calling for listed companies which repeatedly flout their wishes over boardroom pay to be held to a binding vote.

Read more: BlackRock will vote against high exec pay says Fink

The Sunday Telegraph has reported a group led by the Investment Association will be submitting proposals to ministers this week to urge them to consider imposing an automatic binding vote for companies whose pay deals were voted against by more than a quarter of shareholders the year before.

The government is currently running a consultation into corporate governance which closes on Friday.

Under current rules, shareholders' votes on annual paypackets are advisory, meaning bosses can still be awarded a bumper salary and bonus even if investors give it the thumbs down.

However, thanks to recently introduced changes, companies do have to go back to the drawing board if they fail to garner shareholder approval over their pay policy, which is drawn up once every three years and dictates the way in which yearly pay is calculating.

Read more: Pension funds want investors to toughen up on exec pay gatekeepers

Several companies faced a shareholder rebellion over senior pay last year. An unprecedented 59.29 per cent of oil major BP's shareholders voted against chief exec Bob Dudley’s $19.6m (£13.8m) remuneration package, while shareholder interest groups repeatedly called on investors to give advertising giant WPP's boss Martin Sorrell a bloody nose over his £70.4m pay, although just 33.45 per cent voted against it in the end.

Meanwhile, consumer goods firm Reckitt Benckiser's £23m deal for boss Rakesh Kapoor got the no vote from 18 per cent of shareholders last year.

The Sunday Times reported today that investors at Reckitt Benckiser are concerned its recent agreement to buy baby food maker Mead Johnson could make it too easy for executives to meet their current pay targets.

Read more: How governance can work for business

Meanwhile, TP Icap, which was formed from the merger of Tullett Prebon and Icap late last year, may not be seeing eye-to-eye with some of its shareholders.

The Sunday Telegraph reported some of the FTSE 250 broking firm's investors have told its board to make bonus targets harder to hit, while some of its proposals for executive pay felt too aggressive.

"We are in the process of consulting with our shareholders for their feedback, ahead of putting forward our new incentive plan at the AGM in May," said a TP Icap spokesperson.

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