9% oppose Shell pay report at AGM


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The Independent Online

Nearly 10% of shareholder votes rejected Royal Dutch Shell's pay report at its annual meeting today after the oil giant's boss doubled his earnings last year.

Chief executive Peter Voser took home 11.7 million euros (£9.5 million) in 2011 - twice the amount he received in 2010 - after lucrative long-term incentive plans paid out.

Some 9.1% of investors, who have seen little change in the company's share price compared with a year earlier, voted against Shell's remuneration report following criticism that executive pay was "excessive".

The group, which reported a 54% jump in profits to 28.6 billion US dollars (£18.1 billion) for 2011, is the latest to be stung by shareholders following discontent over pay at the likes of insurers Prudential and Aviva, as well as Barclays.

Swiss citizen Mr Voser earned 5.2 million euros (£4.2 million) in annual salary and bonus awards in 2011, which was slightly down on the previous year, but his total pay was boosted by 6.5 million euros (£5.2 million) from long-term reward plans.

Shareholder body Pirc advised clients to vote against the company's remuneration report at its annual meeting.

Although salaries have effectively been frozen since 2009, it said they are still at the high end of its UK peer group and will see increases of between 3% and 5% in 2012.

Pirc said it was not convinced that long-term incentive plans introduced in 2009 are challenging, adding "the scheme has been shown to offer generous rewards even for hitting just one of four performance targets".

Shell recently reported an 11% rise in profits to 7.66 billion US dollars (£4.75 billion) for the first three months of 2012, as it cashed in on high energy prices at a time of fuel price misery for British motorists.

As well as high oil prices, with Brent crude at around 120 US dollars a barrel, Shell said the profits haul reflected improvements in its own operating performance and better production volumes.

The so-called "shareholder spring" that has rocked boardrooms over recent weeks has been driven by anger that huge salaries and even bigger bonuses are out of kilter with falling share prices and pressure on profits.

Business Secretary Vince Cable and his department have finished a consultation on binding shareholder votes, which would mean pay deals require the support of 75% of votes, and will update on progress next month.