The National Association of Pension Funds has named eight companies that have failed to take seriously shareholder concerns on pay.
While acknowledging that the “flash points” belied a downward trend in resistance to remuneration policies, the organsation’s corporate governance policy lead, Will Pomroy, said the “significant shareholder dissent” did not reflect well.
Compared with 28 FTSE 350 companies that last year saw “significant concerns” expressed about pay, by mid-August, eight companies – including budget airline easyJet, First Group and Lonmin – had investors once again complaining.
The NAPF said companies with successive years of dissent were those that in 2013 saw pay votes rejected by at least 15% of shareholders and a further 20% this year.
Other named companies included Ocado Group, Ophir Energy, SVG Capital, Mitie Group and Capital & Counties Properties.
First, which has several contracts to maintain public transport in UK cities, was criticised for the high level of executive pay when compared against peers in the sector, as well as “inappropriate and un-stretching metrics”.
Pomroy added: “We urge all those firms whose shareholders have so clearly signalled their dissatisfaction this year to begin in earnest a conversation to resolve the concerns well ahead of next year’s AGM season.”
Under new UK regulation, remuneration votes are split in two – with a policy report drawn up by the company and put to a vote every three years, while pay is put to binding votes and each AGM.
“We are glad to see greater transparency and hope more companies next year use their reporting to communicate better with their investors, as opposed to simply complying with the regulations,” Pomroy said.
New requirements for auditors to discuss in greater detail the process for companies were also welcomed, with Pomroy saying they had achieved “the almost impossible task of keeping both investors and companies happy”.