Disclosure of directors' pensions triggers clash

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The Independent Online

Business Editor

A new row is likely over proposals to disclose the value of directors' pensions, after a change of mind by Sir Richard Greenbury, the Confederation of British Industry and the Institute of Directors.

All three have told the actuarial body charged with drawing up detailed plans for disclosure that they are against showing the capital value of pension entitlements in annual reports.

They have opted instead for disclosure of expected pension income, which will show much less dramatic increases when executives receive large pay rises.

But Britain's pension funds are believed to have decided to stick with more radical methods and have drawn up their own proposals, which they say stick much more closely to the original spirit of the Greenbury report.

The National Association of Pension Funds is believed to have recommended a scheme that would clearly show the capital value in pension terms of a pay increase. Their method is much more likely to win the backing of Labour spokesmen.

Sir Richard's committee on top pay recommended that annual reports should give the value of a director's pension entitlements earned during the year.

Senior committee members, including Sir Richard and Tim Melville Ross, director general of the Institute of Directors, initially took this to mean the capital value but have changed their minds.

In letters to the Institute and the Faculty of Actuaries, the CBI, the IoD and Sir Richard have opted instead for the "accrued benefit" method, which shows the amount of annual pension income earned by a director after retirement date.

Their evidence in response to the consultation document could prove crucial when the Department of Trade and Industry and the Stock Exchange decide on the final method.

There have been fears in many boardrooms that if disclosure is based on capital values there could be a rerun of last year's fat cat row. Directors receving large salary increases would be shown to receive benefits many times their annual salaries.

The actuaries themselves have favoured using the simplest method of calculating capital values, based on changes in the transfer value of a director's pension.

Industry view, page 27