Shareholders have blocked a multimillion-pound pay rise for Alison Cooper, chief executive of Imperial Brands, according to a story by Jill Treanor published in the January 27 edition of The Guardian.
Treanor wrote that Imperial had issued an unexpected announcement to the stock exchange on January 26 to say that, after speaking to shareholders, it would no longer put its new pay policy to a vote at its annual meeting on February 1.
The policy which must be voted on every three years, would have boosted Cooper’s pay from £5.5 million to a potential £8.5 million a year from increased bonus opportunities.
David Haines, who chairs the company’s remuneration committee, was quoted as saying that the pay rise was needed because Cooper and other top executives were underpaid. He described their pay deals as “significantly below the average for companies of our size”.
Imperial’s chairman, Mark Williams reportedly suggested that he believed the pay rise was necessary to prevent the company’s top bosses from quitting and for it to be able to hire new executives.
Writing in the same issue of the Guardian, Nils Pratley said that Williams and Haines should take a cold look at how they had misread the mood.
‘Cooper earned £5.5 million out a theoretical maximum of £7.1 million last year,’ Pratley wrote. ‘Imperial’s justification for trying to increase her potential annual jackpot to £8.5 million was thin in the extreme. Haines claimed executives at other firms of similar size could earn more and asserted the risk of defection without evidence.’