Shareholder spring is back

Oliver Smith
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MEMORIES of 2012’s shareholder spring returned yesterday as investors rallied against the pay packages and policies of top British firms.

Hiscox was hit hardest after 42 per cent of its voting shareholders failed to support the specialist insurer’s remuneration policy – the biggest protest vote so far this year – after it didn’t cap the packages that would be offered to new executive directors.

Separately, chief executive Bronek Masojada was awarded a remuneration package for 2013 worth a fifth more than the previous year.

FTSE 100 oil and gas firm BG Group was also stung at its annual general meeting yesterday after a third of its voting shareholders failed to back its remuneration report. Investors highlighted unease over its executive pay following warnings about lower output, and chief executive Chris Finlayson’s sudden departure last month. Belfast-based UTV Media and energy services group Petrofac were bruised with smaller revolts of 27 per cent and 22 per cent for their remuneration reports respectively.

Lloyds Banking Group also saw a minor rebellion with 12.7 per cent of its voting shareholders failing to back its remuneration report during its annual meeting in Edinburgh yesterday.

Hiscox’s dramatic rebellion came following the separate revelation that it had awarded chief executive Bronek Masojada a £2.34m pay package for 2013, a 21 per cent boost from his award the previous year.

It follows an active AGM season for investors, which has seen significant protest votes hit banking group Standard Chartered, pharma bid target Astrazeneca, education publisher Pearson and cruise operator Carnival.

On Wednesday, HSBC preemptively rowed back on plans to award chairman Douglas Flint a £2.25m bonus share package, amid shareholder unrest ahead of its AGM next Friday.