Simon English: Disasters don't affect Lloyd's of London bosses

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The Independent Online

Under what circumstances would bonuses to executives at Lloyd's of London fall? The answer seems to be: under no circumstances whatsoever. Last year was one of "unprecedented catastrophe", in the insurance market's own words. It plunged to a loss of £516 million, the second-worst result in Lloyd's 364-year history. There were tsunamis and earthquakes, floods and typhoons. Death and destruction.

What does this mean for the directors? Nothing much. Richard Ward's pay went down a bit, but for some reason the chief executive merited a higher bonus of £752,000.

Insurance is about risk, a phenomena from which Mr Ward seems to be protected. He isn't pricing that risk, he just runs the market, but still, it's an odd signal to send.

It's a similar tale for finance director Luke Savage and for Tom Bolt, who at least has the decency to have a comedy job title. He is director of performance management, a position he likens to being a good football referee.

"In a great game you don't notice the ref," claims Mr Bolt, who this year strolled under the radar to a £450,000 bonus and total pay of £1.05m. Former chairman Lord Levene of Portsoken, reluctantly took £538,000.

Anyway, back to the bonuses. Lloyd's says that overall executive pay was cut and that no bonus was paid "in relation to the market's year-end result". So the bonuses are for achievements from previous years. Multi-choice exam: Is this a) a sensible way of incentivising talented executives to do good work? b) a fix that is rife across the corporate world to ensure the top brass never need engage with economic reality?

Lloyd's spokesman Matt Drage notes that "following an external review of executive remuneration, a number of changes have been made to executive pay for 2012 which sees a reduction in bonus opportunities".

So they are overpaid then.

Why we should all say cheers to Adnams?

Firmly in the companies-to-admire category is Adnams, the brewer. Even if you don't love its beer the way it goes about its business is hard not to like.

It is beleaguered by a tax regime that looks increasingly unfair and an economy that leaves folk with less to spend down the local.

It notes these things, but not in the moaning way employed by certain industries. Times are hard, but we'll get on with it, is their attitude.

Figures out yesterday show sales up to £54.6m, and profits steady at £3.3m. Beer prices, which are shooting up everywhere, have been held at Adnams for a fourth year running.