Nearly third of Thomas Cook shareholders vote against pay

Almost one third of shareholders voted against travel operator Thomas Cook's proposed remuneration report at an annual general meeting held on Thursday February 7th.

Almost one third of shareholders voted against travel operator Thomas Cook's proposed remuneration report at an annual general meeting held on Thursday February 7th.

Some 29.7% of shareholders - representing approximately 130m votes- voted against the report, indicating that shareholder anger about executive salaries in companies across the UK broadly has not disappeared.

In 2012, a number of large listed UK companies faced shareholder revolts over the executive remuneration packages proposed for top brass in the wake of falling profits and declining revenue.

Andrew Moss, the chief executive officer of Aviva, resigned after shareholders voted against the company's decisions on executive pay and bonuses last May.

Days before Trinity Mirror was due to hold its AGM, Sly Bailey announced she would step down and at the end of April 2012 and David Brenan, the head of AstraZeneca, said he would leave following a period of poor sales and rising investor discontent also last year.

The large number of voters averse to Thomas Cook's remuneration report may spark similar responses at other listed companies due to hold their AGMs soon.

In November, the travel operatyor unveiled its full year results showing that its pre-tax loss has widened to £485.3m in the year ended September 30th 2012 compared to a loss of £398.2m in 2011.

Revenue fell to £9.49bn from £9.8bn previously.

Thomas Cook's remuneration report, detailed in the company's 2012 annual report, stated that Chief Executive Harriet Green had received an annual salary rate of £680,000 in 2012 with a maximum annual bonus equal to 225% of her base salary for July 2012 to September 2013.

Thomas Cook said that the higher initial bonus was designed to incentivise her to carry out the company's transformation plan.

Chief Financial Officer Michael Healy's remuneration was also disclosed. The CFO was paid an annual salary of £480,000 in 2012 with the possibility of earning a maximum bonus of 150% of the pay.

Thomas Cook's first quarter revenue, published on Thursday, was £1,724m, with a gross margin of 21.9%, up 1.3 percentage points over the comparable period last year.

A statement issued by the company with the publication of its AGM voting results made a direct reference to the reaction to the remuneration report by voters.

"The board of Thomas Cook welcomes the support of the substantial majority of its shareholders who today approved the Remuneration Report at the company's annual general meeting.

"As the board previously made clear, its overriding objective in making remuneration decisions last year was to secure a top-quality Chief Executive and Chief Financial Officer and to incentivise them to drive the transformation of the company and rebuild shareholder value.

"The board's guiding principle is to ensure that pay reflects performance and that we do not pay for non-performance."

MF

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