BT: Soz about that £1.3m CEO bonus vote, shareholders. Friends?

We're listening, insists company right before new chief exec takes post

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BT has belatedly given its shareholders a public pat on the head for not voting down departing chief exec Gavin Patterson's £1.3m bonus.

In a statement today BT admitted that angry shareholders "felt that the amount paid did not appropriately reflect the underlying performance of the company or take adequate account of the value created for shareholders".

At BT's AGM in July, a third of shareholders voted against Patterson receiving his wheelbarrow of cash. Though eye-poppingly large for most folk, the £1.3m is just a fifth of the vast bonuses BT was flinging at Patterson until the £530m Italian accounting scandal came to light in early 2017.

After the successful vote, the chairman of BT's remuneration committee "invited a broad selection of shareholders and proxy advisory bodies" to tell him exactly why they voted against Patterson's bonus.

The chief exec has seen BT's share price halve over the past three years, with his departure being announced weeks before the AGM where shareholders were asked to give him even more money.

BT finance bods organised a frantic ring-round of investors – a process it referred to at the time as being "in dialogue" with them – to ensure Patterson's bonus was voted through as usual. Though the vote passed, only 68 per cent of shareholders gave it the nod. Nonetheless, a chastened BT, keen not to anger the markets, has promised to "implement a more structured process to help it step through the application of its discretion in the future" when asking shareholders to approve telephone-number bonuses for its top execs.

When the telco announced Patterson's replacement would be former Worldpay chief exec Philip Jansen, its share price jumped 30p to 264.55p, a price it had not been at since January 2018. Back in November 2015, that price stood at 499.80p, having troughed at 203p in May.

Jansen starts at BT in January and will fully take the reins in February. He will continue to oversee the shedding of 13,000 jobs announced in the middle of 2018. ®


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