Invesco pay-offs to former directors under fire

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The Independent Online
SHAREHOLDERS of the fund management group Invesco MIM, fined recently by Imro for breaking City regulations, yesterday questioned pay-offs to former Invesco directors and criticised its auditors, Peat Marwick, for not spotting the rule breaches earlier.

Charles Brady, the fund manager based in Atlanta, Georgia, who succeeded Lord Stevens as chairman of Invesco in April, told the annual meeting in London that ex-directors had been paid only what they were entitled to in their annual contracts.

Mr Brady defended Peat, which was commissioned by the company to act as consultant as well as auditor in dealing with Imro's complaints. Last year Invesco paid the accountants nearly pounds 1.6m, Martin Adamson, a Peat partner, told the meeting. Peat was reconfirmed as auditor by the meeting but Mr Brady said its role was under review along with all the company's other professional contracts.

The chairman said talks were continuing with Sir John Cuckney's Maxwell unit to settle the outstanding pounds 11m legal claim by the Mirror Group pensioners against the company. He was 'sympathetic to the plight of the pensioners'.

In a stormy meeting Mr Brady deflected shareholders' anger with a mixture of charm and upbeat predictions for the future. He said the 'shadow' of the Imro investigation had now been lifted and no further provisions were to be made on top of the pounds 2.3m cost of the fine and the inquiry itself.

Shareholders repeatedly asked why former directors who had presided over the company during the period it had breached Imro rules 55 times should leave with big pay-offs.

Mr Brady said that the directors concerned had received no more than their contractual entitlement as outlined in the report and accounts. Nicholas Johnson, former chief executive, received pounds 460,000, Mr Brady said, and Ratan Engineer, former finance director, got pounds 150,000. Lord Stevens, who is being paid until September, also received pounds 150,000.

In the first four months of this year Invesco's profits were ahead of budget due to strong growth in Europe and the strength of the dollar, he said. Shareholders attacked the halving of the dividend while total payment to directors rose by 20 per cent. Mr Brady said dividend policy would change once the new management team's strategy started taking effect. Shares were unchanged at 136p.