Investor wrath moves to IAG and Heritage

THE UK’s shareholder spring could this week give way to a sizzling shareholder summer, as newly emboldened investors keep up the pressure on company boards.

The biggest potential for fireworks this week comes on Thursday when the board of struggling Heritage Oil faces investors, disappointed at the two-thirds reduction in the company’s value over the past 18 months.

In the lead up to the AGM, shareholder advocacy groups have been agitating, with the Association of British Insurers (ABI) objecting to the two-year notice period of exec directors, while Pirc has queried the wisdom of awarding director bonuses after a $67m loss in the latest financial year.

In a statement unlikely to cheer investors, Heritage defended the payment on the grounds of the company’s excellent health and safety record. Nearly one-fifth of investors voted against the remuneration report at last year’s AGM.

British Airways owner IAG has also incurred the wrath of shareholder advocacy groups ahead of its AGM on Wednesday. The ABI has objected to a €2.8m lump sum to be paid to chairman Antonio Vazquez Romero on his retirement, a deviation from standard UK practice. Pirc has questioned the company’s failure to ask directors to stand for re-election at the AGM, the first since the completion of the merger of BA and Iberia.

Pirc has also advised investors to vote against the pay report at UK Coal’s AGM on Friday, questioning recent increases in bonus limits. In April, UK Coal reported its first profit in four years, but still faces pensions liabilities far in excess of market capitalisation.