Shareholders revolt over pay at Reckitt and Ocado

Kasmira Jefford
Follow Kasmira
OCADO and Reckitt Benckiser have become the latest companies to suffer an investor backlash over pay for the most senior staff.

About 20 per cent of investors in the online grocer voted against the remuneration report while 13 per cent opposed Ocado’s pay policy.

A person familiar with the situation said Ocado’s board had consulted with shareholders and the remuneration committee ahead of the annual meeting and had made changes following their feedback.

However, a “red top” alert issued by the Association of British Insurers, the influential investor body, is understood to have left a number of investors unswayed.

Some shareholders are thought to have been concerned about a new five-year “growth incentive plan” (GIP), with 26.7 per cent voting against approving it yesterday. The plan is based solely on Ocado’s share price performance.

Meanwhile, 31.5 per cent of Reckitt Benckiser’s shareholders rejected the consumer giant’s remuneration report at its annual general meeting, which also took place yesterday. A fifth also voted against the pay policy at the company behind Nurofen.

A spokesman for Reckitt Benckiser said: “We continue to engage in dialogue with our shareholders so that we can either address their concerns or explain why we believe the policy is the right one.”

The revolt is the latest in a series of protests against boardroom pay in the UK. It comes after Barclays was forced to defend a 10 per cent rise in its bonus pot to some hostile investors at its annual meeting last month.

Some 33 per cent of Pearson’s investors rejected the publisher’s pay report last month, while pharmaceuticals giant Astrazeneca also saw protest votes at its recent annual meeting.

In the US, Bank of America Merrill Lynch avoided a shareholder backlash, with 93 per cent backing its pay plans. Boss Brian Moynihan told investors a recent $4bn (£2.36bn) miscalculation in capital needs was “disappointing”.