Vodafone’s pay deal opposed by adviser Pirc

VODAFONE was delivered a blow yesterday when investor advisory body Pirc urged shareholders to vote against the telco’s remuneration report.

But the telecoms giant could still escape the so-called shareholder spring which has scalped some of Britain’s top companies, as the ABI and Institutional Shareholder Services (ISS) both supported Vodafone’s pay deal.

Looking ahead to Vodafone’s annual general meeting on 24 July, Pirc called the company’s executive pay “excessive in both absolute and relative terms”.

Vodafone chief executive Vittorio Colao was paid £3m in salary, bonus and other payments last year, plus a whopping £11m worth of shares which paid out earlier this month.

While Pirc conceded that Vodafone’s remuneration is “highly geared towards variable pay”, it said neither the lower nor the upper performance targets are “sufficiently challenging”.

The opposition comes in stark contrast to the ABI’s report, which last week issued Vodafone’s pay deal with an inoffensive “blue top”, recommending that shareholders vote in favour of the proposed remuneration.

ISS also backed the proposed pay packages, saying “no major concerns have been identified”.

The telecoms giant returned £10.2bn to shareholders last year, making it the top dividend payer in the FTSE 100.

In separate news, Vodafone announced late last night that it will acquire New Zealand-based TelstraClear for NZ$840m (£430m), adding the country’s second largest fixed operator to its portfolio.