BT investors vent anger at bonus scheme

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The Independent Online

BT suffered a bruising annual meeting yesterday after hordes of shareholders vented their anger over the bonus scheme that could land its top executives hefty pay packages.

Nearly 17 per cent of investors, including 6.28 per cent of votes withheld, refused to back its remuneration report, following BT making a £134m loss in 2008/09. Under its reward scheme, the company's chief executive, Ian Livingston, could pocket £5.6m, including salary and bonuses, if BT hits all of its long-term performance targets.

The shareholder revolt is the latest faced by major UK companies including the state-owned bank RBS and the oil company Royal Dutch Shell this year, as investors take umbrage at the lucrative reward schemes for executives at under-performing companies.

BT shareholders were also angry over the total termination payment of £1.6m awarded to Francois Barrault, the former head of its troubled Global Services division, who resigned in October. In 2008/09, BT wrote down £1.6bn after reviewing all the division's contracts. Yesterday, BT's chairman, Sir Michael Rake, said improving the performance of BT Global Services was a key priority and described the last financial year as a "difficult one".