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The Guardian: Rewards for failure debate follows BP boss into retirement

· Browne tops list with £1m a year despite bonus loss
· Incomes linked to salary for board, but not workers

Phillip Inman
Thursday August 30, 2007

The former BP chief executive, Lord Browne of Madingley, topped the executive pension league in 2006 with a retirement package worth more than £1m a year.

Close behind was Lawrence Fish, the head of Royal Bank of Scotland’s US operations. Mr Fish, 62, has so far accumulated an annual pension entitlement of £992,081.

A roll call of executives from Britain’s best-known large companies – Shell, Cadbury, Unilever, GlaxoSmithKline and Tesco – bulk out the rest of the list, showing that a final salary pension from a blue chip employer is still the best route to a financially secure retirement.

Bob Diamond, the high-flying head of Barclays’ investment banking business, who heads the annual directors’ pay league in the Guardian/RTF pay survey, fails to appear on the list because he squirrels away income made in Britain into a private pension plan in his native US. After 12 years on an investment banker’s wages, Mr Diamond would be expected to be somewhere in the top 10, but the omissions in the government’s rules on pay and pension disclosure allow many of the highest paid to sidestep divulging all of their remuneration.

Trade unions have campaigned against excessive pension bonuses paid to senior executives at a time of cuts in pension rights for shop floor and office workers.

The majority of workers are now members of occupational schemes that pay retirement incomes based on stock market returns rather than on a guarantee offered by their employer. Most executives in the FTSE 100 continue to enjoy guaranteed plans linked to their final salaries.

Richard Harvey, the former chief executive of insurer Aviva who retired last year to do charity work in Africa, took an £11.6m transfer value payment from his fund in order to generate an annual income.

Questions about the link between pay and performance have dogged the debate around executive pensions. Lord Browne’s performance at BP was singled out by some who felt that after building the company into one of the largest and most profitable oil majors, he had begun to undermine its future.

Lord Browne announced his decision to quit this year after the company faced strong criticism for its safety record in the US following a fire at its Texas City refinery which killed several employees in 2005. It drew further criticism when pipes at its Alaskan oilfields were found to be leaking.

Lord Browne’s reign finally came to an end earlier than planned after he lied in court during an attempt to block tabloid revelations about his personal life. He lost some £15m in potential bonuses due as part of his retirement package, but kept the pension.

Cadbury Schweppes boss Todd Stitzer is another top executive to profit from accelerated pension benefits. If he retires tomorrow he can count on a pension of £737,000 a year.

His pension will be unaffected by criticism that his current plan to break up the company is born of his failure to integrate the business and that, like Lord Browne, he took his eye off health and safety issues. A salmonella outbreak at a factory making some of Britain’s best loved chocolate bars damaged the company’s reputation .

Like Lord Browne, Mr Stitzer may yet lose some of his bonus entitlements, but his and all other executive pensions remain untouchable.,,2158475,00.html and its sister websites,,,,, and are all owned by John Donovan. There is also a Wikipedia article.

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