Shell and Next hit by angry shareholders

SHELL and Next&rsquo;s Annual General Meetings (AGMs) set the stage for a summer of discontent yesterday, as shareholders voiced concern over their companies&rsquo; remuneration policies.<br /><br />Almost 60 per cent of investors at oil giant Shell voted against the company&rsquo;s executive pay scheme, while a disgruntled 17 per cent at Next came out against the firm.<br /><br />At Shell, queues of investors lined up at the Hague, and in London, where the conference was transmitted by video link for UK investors, to express dismay at the remuneration committee.<br /><br />Shell paid bonuses to its board, despite the company missing previously agreed targets.<br /><br />They also voiced their objection to the reappointment of Lord Kerr of Kinlochard who, as one shareholder said, &ldquo;has the misfortune to be the only member (of the remuneration committee) up for re-election.&rdquo;<br /><br />Some investors called for an overhaul to Shell&rsquo;s remuneration policy while a representative of the Dutch Shareholders Association (VEB) called its bonus system &ldquo;sick.&rdquo;<br /><br />Institutional investors also lined up to register their concern. Standard Life, which has not supported a Shell remuneration bill since 2003, said it was &ldquo;dismayed&rdquo; at the oil giant.<br /><br />Shell said it took the vote &ldquo;very seriously&rdquo;, and would meet with shareholders to discuss its future pay policies.<br /><br />But the unusually high vote is unlikely to mean board members will have to repay any money, as it is only advisory.<br /><br />Outside the AGM, police, protesters and burning torches greeted Shell representatives.<br /><br />&ldquo;Shareholders need to start worrying more about Shell&rsquo;s impact on the planet than the impact of the company&rsquo;s pension packages on their pockets,&rdquo; said a campaigner for pressure group Platform.<br /><br />Shell is due to stand trial in New York next week for human rights abuses.<br /><br />The rejection of Shell&rsquo;s remuneration policy, and the protest vote against Next&rsquo;s, comes as a series of blue-chip companies face an investor backlash over their pay.<br /><br />BT, RBS and AIG have all been under fire for their bonus&nbsp;schemes.