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Shell overhauls executive pay in response to shareholder revolt

Daily Telegraph

Royal Dutch Shell has frozen the pay of its top executive directors and imposed new rules on bonuses, as it tries to appease investor anger over excessive remuneration.

By Rowena Mason, City Reporter (Energy)
Published: 9:11AM GMT 16 Feb 2010

Last year, Shell’s board suffered an embarrassing shareholder revolt over their pay packages, which awarded bonuses to executives who had failed to hit their targets.

Since then, the company has been consulting with major shareholders about more appropriate remuneration policies.

In a letter to investors , Hans Wijers, chairman of the remuneration committee, said the move would “better align remuneration policy with shareholder interests and long-term strategy”.

Peter Voser, who took over as chief executive of Shell last year, has already accepted a pay package 20pc below that of his predecessor, in line with other new employees.

He, along with Simon Henry, finance director, and Malcolm Brinded, director of upstream, will not be eligible for a rise until at least January 2011.

A greater proportion of bonus payments will now be in shares, to be vested over a longer period of time, which will tie the money made by directors to performance.

Mr Voser will also have a personal say in how successful his executive directors have been at hitting targets each year. The remuneration committee has also agreed not to award bonuses where directors fail to meet their targets.

It is understood major shareholders are happy with the concessions, which will be presented at the group’s annual meeting in May.

The shareholder revolt last year was one of the largest in UK corporate history, with 59.42pc of shareholders voting against Shell’s pay deal during at fiery meeting at the Hague.

Peter Job, the former chairman of Royal Dutch Shell’s remuneration committee, stepped down in September, five months after the rebellion. He angered investors by recommending that directors take up half their share awards even though Shell missed its target of finishing third in terms of performance against a peer group of five rivals.

Jeroen van der Veer, Shell’s former chief executive, received a package worth £9.1m, up 58pc on 2007.

At the time, several investors spoke out. Errol Keyner, from Dutch shareholder association VEB, called the system “sick and in need of fixing”. Guy Jubb, of Standard Life, told the board he was “dismayed” over Mr van der Veer remuneration package.

The rebellion was seen as an indication of increasing activism among institutional shareholders and a sign that anger at bonuses paid to management in the banks had spilled over into other sectors.


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