Cousins takes helm at Compass on £3m deal

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The Independent Online

The group, which has been hit by allegations of corruption regarding how it wins contacts, ended a six-month search for a chief executive with the appointment of Mr Cousins, who quit BPB after it succumbed to a hostile bid from France's Saint-Gobain. Shares in Compass rose 3.5p to 238.75p.

Mr Cousins' arrival will mark a fresh start for Compass, which also has a new chairman, Sir Roy Gardner. The company is not paying Mr Cousins a "golden hello" or doling out any share options.

Instead, the former BPB boss will receive a basic salary of £750,000 and the chance to earmark himself up to £3m during his first 12 months if the group hits its free cash flow and total shareholder return targets. He will be in line for a bonus worth 150 per cent of his base salary and shares worth £1.5m as part of the company's long-term incentive plan.

It is unusual for companies not to lure new bosses with an upfront bung, particularly when they are joining a group in trouble such as Compass. A spokesman said: "We felt a golden hello was inappropriate. He has a good base salary and the opportunity through the incentive plan and bonus to add to that."

Mr Cousins joins the group on 2 May and will overlap for one month with the incumbent, Mike Bailey. He has no food industry experience but built BPB into a FTSE 100 business during his 15 years with the group.

Investors were not fussed about Mr Cousins' lack of industry knowledge. One said: "It's more about setting up a business with proper controls and getting confidence from shareholders. Operationally he did a very good job at BPB and communicated what he did very well."