M&S pay deal irks investors

DISGRUNTLED investors in Marks & Spencer are agitating for an overhaul of the company’s board after details of Sir Stuart Rose’s pay sparked a fresh row over corporate governance.

Rose will draw an £875,000 salary, plus a bonus, when he moves to the post of non-executive chairman in the summer to make way for incoming chief executive Marc Bolland.

Shareholders have been riled by the sum, which makes Rose the best-remunerated chairman of any blue chip company in the UK. It is the latest in a series of clashes between M&S and its institutional owners over the extent of Rose’s influence within the company.

Amid accusations that Rose’s reward package is excessive for a board member without executive responsibilities, certain investors are calling for a clear-out of the firm’s directors.

One shareholder was quoted saying the spat underlined the need for a revamp of the M&S board and the installation of an independent chairman. Institutions also grumbled about the length of the 10-month period Rose will spend handing over to Bolland.

City headhunter JCA has been hired to find a replacement for Rose when he leaves in May 2011. Names in the frame include Roger Carr, the former Cadbury chairman, government minister and ex-M&S chairman Lord Myners, and Niall Fitzgerald of Reuters.

Rose’s salary will be topped up with a bonus of as much as £1m for 2009. M&S could not confirm the size of his bonus but said it would be announced in the company’s remuneration report in June.