Monday, May 7,2012 : SHAREHOLDER CENSURE AT NEXT WILL HILL AGM?
 
Tuesday's meeting in London may include some shareholder fireworks
 
The increasing activism of British shareholders and institutional investors, especially in cases where executive remuneration and perks are perceived as being unnecessarily high, has become something of a trend recently.
 
Investors are increasingly restive about million pound pay days among banks and large corporates…and they are firing warning shots across the bows of company executives at annual general meetings.
 
The latest confrontation may take place at the William Hill plc agm next Tuesday, the Guardian newspaper speculated over the weekend, pointing out that 38 percent of investors chose not to back the gambling group's 2010 remuneration report, which showed that chief executive Ralph Topping's total pay rose by 56 percent to GBP 1.65 million.
 
Not that the advisory vote was effective – executives can ignore shareholders opinion polls, albeit at their ultimate peril.
 
This appeared to happen in 2011, when Topping was handed another GBP 1.2 million in shares and a GBP 60,000 salary increase, bringing his remuneration last year to GBP 1.71 million.
 
The newspaper notes that this year Topping's salary was up another GBP 50,000 to GBP 650,000 in salary payments alone, and hints that this may be the cause for some criticism next Tuesday.
 
A sobering thought is that for all his considerable responsibilities, experience and business acumen, Topping's monthly take-home is nowhere near that of some of the twenty-something football players who so often occupy the front pages of the UK tabloids for all the wrong reasons.