Mirror Group boss, 73, to seek re-election

Sir Robert Clark, the 73-year-old chairman of Mirror Group, will seek re-election at the newspaper group's annual meeting next month after a proposed shake-up in the company's articles of association.

Until now two special clauses in the Mirror Group's articles of association have allowed the group to sidestep clauses in the Companies Act requiring directors to retire by rotation and seek re-election at every agm after the age of 70.

But Paul Vickers, Mirror Group company secretary, said shareholders at the agm would be asked to approve changes which would "clean up" the articles in line with general business practice.

He added: "We are aware that the exemptions in the articles had become unfashionable in the light of the Cadbury and Greenbury reports. So we are proposing changes that will require many directors to stand for re- election"

Sir Robert will ask for a 12-month extension standing alongside several other directors including David Montgomery, chief executive, and Mr Vickers himself.

The company secretary said that the changes were being proposed by the company, rather than being the subject of outside pressure.

One newspaper report suggested there was investor concern about Sir Robert's age but Mr Vickers said that he had not been contacted by any shareholders on this or other aspects of corporate governance. Mirror Group's largest shareholder, PDFM, is understood to be unconcerned about Sir Robert's age and is happy to see him continue in the role as chairman.

Mr Montgomery saw his total salary including bonus and pension rise to pounds 581,000 in 1996. His basic salary of pounds 375,000 compared with pounds 293,000 the year before. But a share award in 1995 would have brought the comparative figure to pounds 328,000.

Kelvin Mackenzie, managing director of Mirror Television, saw his total package rise from pounds 265,000 to pounds 362,000.

Mr Vickers said executives had been given increases last year to bring them into line with directors in media companies of a similar size.

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