Golden hello for AstraZeneca chief provokes investor wrath

Michael Bow
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DRUG giant AstraZeneca could face a shareholder revolt over pay at its annual meeting next week after an influential investor group voiced opposition to a controversial pay award for the firm’s new boss.

The Local Authority Pension Fund Forum (LAPFF), whose members own about two per cent of the company, said the so-called golden hello award of £991,080 for new chief executive Pascal Soriot was against its new pay policy and recommended members vote against the remuneration report.

Soriot, who was appointed in October last year from Swiss rival Roche, was paid the money in lieu of a bonus due from Roche.

He had to invest the money in AstraZeneca shares.

Soriot is also in line for £4m in long term incentive bonuses, on top of a £1.1m base salary, in return for signing on.

The LAPFF, which represents a market moving £315bn in total assets, wrote to all FTSE 350 in March warning them it would vote against pay awards for incoming bosses.

“We don’t think executives should be paid for performance they have not actually achieved,” Forum chairman Kieran Quinn, a Labour councillor, said yesterday.

AstraZeneca said in a statement: “We are committed to levels of remuneration that are sufficient to attract, retain and motivate senior employees of the requisite quality, while avoiding paying more than is necessary.”