Spring turns to a summer of love as investors look to sunny side

Marc Sidwell
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MAN Group showed yesterday that the City already has plenty of investors with a long-term outlook, as it announced further outflows and another round of cuts, only to see a significant gain in its share price.

Meanwhile Vodafone’s shares fell more than one per cent, in the wake of tough first quarter numbers out on Friday, with UK revenue down 0.8 per cent and a loss of 1.5m customers across Europe. But shareholders at the AGM didn’t seem too worried either: 96 per cent voted for the board’s remuneration report.

In a year when 14 per cent dissent is the new normal, such strong support proves that the shareholder spring isn’t a generalised mood of vindictiveness against all highly-paid chief executives. Perhaps Vodafone’s owners are mollified by its promised dividend per share growth of at least seven per cent a year to March 2013, and the £10bn returned to investors over the past year. The attention Vodafone pays to avoiding rewards for failure may also be a factor. Chief executive Vittorio Colao’s remuneration increased by 23.4 per cent in 2012, but his salary fell, with his shareholding in the company increasing from six times his salary to over ten times his salary. Firms that want to avoid a revolt need to learn from one that got it right.

Marc Sidwell is City A.M.’s managing editor