Lasmo board attacked: Pay rises despite losses anger investors

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PRIVATE shareholders in Lasmo yesterday criticised the company's board for taking huge pay increases last year when the oil group was struggling with deep financial problems.

The increases were condemned by several small investors at Lasmo's annual meeting. They demanded to know why the total pay bill for directors had shot up by 38 per cent to pounds 1.85m despite a pounds 385m loss by the company last year. The bill included pounds 184,000 performance-related bonuses paid after the pounds 1bn takeover of Ultramar. They were also angry at the collapse in Lasmo's share price from about 300p before the bid to 146p, down 1p, yesterday. Although Lord Rees, chairman, tried to deflect the onslaught by announcing a 5 per cent cut in boardroom pay this year, some investors remained dissatisfied.

George Prentice, a shareholder, demanded that the board take a pay freeze for two years because the increases had been 'exorbitant' in previous years. He also decided to vote against the re-election of two directors and called on other investors to follow suit.

Shareholders also condemned the pounds 2.2m pay-off received by Chris Greentree after his resignation as chief executive earlier this year.

One investor challenged a claim by Lord Rees that most oil companies' shares had seen a sharp fall in 1992 because of difficult trading conditions. He said that shares in several rivals, including British Petroleum and Shell, had increased sharply.

However, all the company's resolutions were passed on a show of hands.

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