Investors rap Tomkins on pay

ENGINEERING firm Tomkins was last night left reeling after nearly 40 per cent of investors voted against the firm&rsquo;s annual remuneration report.<br /><br />Just 61 per cent of shareholders approved the remuneration policy, according to figures released yesterday, with many understood to have been outraged by the company&rsquo;s rewards system.<br /><br />Chief executive Jim Nicol was handed total compensation of $3.25m (&pound;2m) and deferred shares worth a further $3m, despite a year in which the firm lost $7.6m before tax and laid off 3,500 staff. Tomkins plans to cut 2,500 more jobs this year.<br /><br />The company pays its top 100 employees a basic salary linked to inflation, someone close to the situation said yesterday, another source of disgruntlement among investors given the firm&rsquo;s poor performance in 2008 and the fact that other firms are freezing basic pay.<br /><br />The source said that Nicol and fellow directors were now considering revising the structure of the firm&rsquo;s remuneration arrangements in response to the protest vote.<br /><br />The Association of British Insurers (ABI), which advises investors on concerns it has about companies, had earlier issued an &ldquo;amber top&rdquo; alert on the firm.<br /><br />The alert system highlights behaviour that runs contrary to what the ABI considers UK best corporate practice, with an &ldquo;amber top&rdquo; rating signifying a number of breaches.<br /><br />Shareholder body PIRC had also advised investors to oppose the remuneration plan, which it branded excessive.<br /><br />Tomkins was embroiled in a row over corporate excess in 2002 when it hired Nicol on a pay package worth &pound;36m.