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Criticism sparks Shell pay review

The review comes after it emerged that Sir Peter Job, the non-executive at the centre of the row, was on the remuneration committee that awarded Jean-Pierre Garnier, the former GlaxoSmithKline boss, a £22m “golden parachute” pay package in 2003.

Shell’s remuneration committee, chaired by Sir Peter, is facing growing criticism for seeking to pay its top executives discretionary share awards despite the group’s failure to meet targets on shareholder returns.

The criticism comes five years after GSK shareholders voted against a pay package for Mr Garnier that would have seen him collect up to £22m if he had lost his job. The vote at GSK became a cause celebre for groups railing against multi-million pound executive payouts.

The criticism of Shell comes as RiskMetrics, a corporate governance advisory group that counts the National Association of Pension Funds among its members, urged shareholders to vote against remuneration packages for Shell executives. The ABI also issued an “amber” alert on Shell’s proposed awards.

Shell has asked shareholders to approve the remuneration payouts at its annual general meeting on May 19. According to the terms of the long-term incentive plan, Shell executives should not be granted share awards if shareholder returns rank fourth or fifth against a pre-determined peer group of the world’s “Big Five” oil companies. Shell ranked fourth but the remuneration committee, led by Sir Peter, opted to pay executives more than half the award they would have received for finishing third.

Shell said the total shareholder return rank alone did not reflect management’s “strong” performance”. Jeroen van der Veer, Shell’s chief executive, was paid £4.54m in 2008.

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