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Pirc asking investors to oppose remuneration report at Shell

May 15, 2009

Shareholders give Amec chief thumbs down on pay

The backlash against boardroom pay hit another FTSE 100 company when more than half of Amec shareholders refused to endorse its remuneration report.

Just over 40 per cent of the votes cast at the engineering group’s annual meeting opposed the report on salaries and bonus plans for directors. A further 13 per cent abstained. The report included a 14 per cent pay rise for Samir Brikho, the chief executive, who had a 41 per cent rise to £657,000 last year. He will receive £750,000 this year. Shareholders objected to Amec’s one-off share incentive scheme for directors, which pension funds had described as insufficiently challenging.

Pirc, the lobby group for pension funds that manage £1,500 billion of assets, had urged its members to vote against the report, arguing that salaries and bonuses should constitute adequate rewards for directors and one-off incentive plans were unnecessary.

Pirc is asking investors to oppose the remuneration report at Shell, the Anglo-Dutch oil and gas group, that made share awards to directors who missed a performance target. Shell has its annual meeting next week.

The Association of British Insurers (ABI), whose members control 15 per cent of the stock market, had issued an “amber top” alert on Amec before the meeting, saying that investors might be concerned at Mr Brikho’s rise. The ABI does not recommend which way shareholders should vote.

The bloody nose for Amec was the latest investor assault on companies that shift their performance targets and put in place potentially excessive salary rises for bosses. The pay report at Provident Financial, the sub-prime lender, was rejected by 51 per cent of investors this month.

Just under a third, or 32.2 per cent, of shareholders who voted at Xstrata’s annual meeting opposed the mining group’s remuneration report, while 34 per cent tried to block salary and bonuses for directors at BP.

When Mr Brikho took charge at Amec in 2006, it was a profitable, but low-margin, construction company. He sold the construction part and developed the engineering and consultancy arms. Pre-tax profits for the year to March 31 rose 66 per cent to £220.3 million, on revenues up 11 per cent. Mr Brikho raised the dividend payout by 15 per cent to 15.4p. The shares closed 0.8 per cent up at 630p.

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