Unilever slammed over fat cat pay just days after being forced to ditch plan to axe UK base

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Unilever chief executive Paul Polman earned £10m last year


Unilever faces a backlash over fat cat pay just days after it was forced to abandon plans to axe its British headquarters.

The consumer goods group, whose brands include Marmite, Domestos and PG Tips, handed £10million to chief executive Paul Polman (pictured) last year.

MPs on the business select committee have summoned executives to Parliament to explain its pay policy amid mounting concerns over boardroom excess.

Royal Mail has also been called to give evidence after 70 per cent of shareholders voted against pay at the postal service in one of the biggest investor rebellions in British corporate history.

Unilever chief executive Paul Polman earned £10m last year

Unilever chief executive Paul Polman earned £10m last year

The hearings will take place on Tuesday next week.

Committee chairman, Labour MP Rachel Reeves, said: ‘Excessive executive pay undermines public trust in business.

‘Chief executives being awarded stratospheric salaries while average worker pay continues to be squeezed is not good for business or society. 

Recent revolts on pay awards, including at Unilever, show that shareholders are increasingly sharing the frustration at unjustifiable pay awards.’

She added: ‘Executive pay must match performance.’

Polman faced humiliation last week after his plan to close Unilever’s London headquarters and base the company solely in the Netherlands was abandoned following fierce opposition from major shareholders.

Investors have also rebelled against proposals that could hand the 62-year-old a pay packet of up to £12.65million.

Unilever, whose brands include Marmite, Domestos and PG Tips, saw more than a third of shareholders vote against rules for executive pay at the firm's AGM in May

Unilever, whose brands include Marmite, Domestos and PG Tips, saw more than a third of shareholders vote against rules for executive pay at the firm's AGM in May

Unilever, whose brands include Marmite, Domestos and PG Tips, saw more than a third of shareholders vote against rules for executive pay at the firm’s AGM in May

At Unilever’s annual general meeting in May, more than a third of shareholders voted against rules for executive pay that could see Polman handed £11.2million in bonuses and £1.45million in fixed pay.

One investor cited an article from 2015 where Polman was quoted as saying he was embarrassed by his salary and that he would work for free.

Unilever’s executive vice-president for reward, Peter Newhouse, will be grilled by MPs next week about the pay deals.

Also appearing will be Orna Ni-Chionna, chairman of Royal Mail’s remuneration committee, following the summer’s pay revolt. 

Investors objected to the golden goodbye worth up to £2.7million for departing boss Moya Greene and a golden hello worth up to £6million for her successor Rico Back.

Last week, Royal Mail shares plummeted after Back, who is leading the company while living in Zurich, warned profits would be up to £194million lower than last year – wiping more than £1billion off the company’s stock market value.

Polman’s judgment has been seriously called into question after Unilever had to backtrack last week on plans for a single head office in the Netherlands following a shareholder revolt.

It has raised questions about whether he should step down sooner than his intended departure date of next year.

 



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