The Daily Mail is no stranger to attacking the fat cats over their bumper bonuses, but the newspaper's parent company was itself in the spotlight yesterday after corporate governance advisers raised concerns over its pay deals.
Pirc and Manifest, which advise investors on company best practice, have both flagged remuneration as a concern at Daily Mail & General Trust (DMGT).
The company hands its senior managers an annual bonus, but Pirc believes its targets are not challenging enough. As a result, the group recommended shareholders oppose the remuneration report when they vote at the annual meeting next month.
Pirc pointed to Pedraic Fallon, the chairman of Euromoney Institutional Investor – in which DMGT holds a 66 per cent stake – whose bonus for last year was set at 15 times his salary, saying the total remuneration "is considered to be potentially excessive".
The group criticised the rolling two-year contract for the Daily Mail's editor, Paul Dacre, calling it "contrary to best practice". Manifest also raised concerns over Mr Dacre's contract.
DMGT declined to comment, but insiders said Mr Dacre's position was unique and it was "worthwhile" his being locked in.
This marks the latest in a series of run-ins with the proxy voting agencies. Pirc has criticised DMGT's dual share structure as far back as 1999, and five years later also raised the issue of the length of Mr Dacre and Mr Fallon's contracts. The agencies also called on investors to reject the report over issues including the chairman, Lord Rothermere, participating in the remuneration scheme, the lack of a bonus cap for Mr Fallon, and the lack of sufficient independent representation on the board.