BP was given a bloody nose yesterday as 12 per cent of its shareholders voted against top executive pay packages at a colourful annual general meeting in which environmental protesters were forcibly carried out of the building.
Including abstentions, about 13.3 per cent of BP shareholders who voted by proxy failed to back BP's remuneration report. Their chief concern was the decision to award the chief executive, Bob Dudley, £4.3m in salary and bonuses last year – a move which Pirc, the shareholder advisory group, recommended its members oppose.
Pirc argued that Mr Dudley's pay was "difficult to justify" in a year in which BP's already depressed shares had slumped by a further 5 per cent.
Shareholders also registered their disapproval of Carl-Henric Svanberg, with 8.5 per cent failing to back his reappointment as chairman.
But while some investors quietly voted against the scale of pay, others were more vocal about environmental concerns, particularly the Gulf of Mexico oil spill in 2010 and BP's involvement in Canadian tar sands. In the most dramatic part of a frequently testy annual general meeting at the Excel Centre in London's Docklands, one investor accused BP of hastening the demise of the planet.
At this point he was joined by fellow protesters, who promptly fell to the floor pretending to die and were carried out by security guards in front of the packed gathering.
Frustration was also expressed outside the meeting, as Gulf Coast and tar sands activists joined forces. "The clean-up is not complete," said Derrick Evans, from Gulfport in Mississippi. Oil washes ashore with unprecedented frequency, bringing dead sea life."
A company spokesman said: "BP's efforts to help restore the Gulf Coast region have not only been significant, they are unprecedented."