Executive pay triggers revolt at William Hill
Friday 13 May 2011
William Hill was yesterday forced to face down a shareholder revolt after almost a third voted against approving the chief executive's pay rise.
The FTSE 250 gambling group met with huge opposition over its proposals to lift Ralph Topping's pay for the first time since his appointment, at its annual general meeting in London.
Almost 176 million votes were cast against the resolution which related to director remuneration, one of the biggest revolts in a major UK-listed company this year.
Just over 331 million were in favour of the level of pay with 25 million withholding their vote, which was enough to push through the proposal.
Mr Topping's pay packet – including benefits and bonuses – increased by more than 50 per cent to £1.6m last year, it emerged in February's annual report. This included a salary of £491,250 with a bonus of £891,000 and £240,000 instead of a pension.
William Hill hit back at the rebel shareholders yesterday. A spokeswoman for the group said the time was right to lift Mr Topping's salary.
She said: "In light of the significant progress that the business has made under his leadership and to ensure that his remuneration is more in line with other companies of our size and complexity, the board has decided to award Ralph an increase in his salary.
"The remuneration of our executives is critical to ensuring that we attract and retain high-calibre individuals and that their interests are aligned with those of shareholders," she added.
Mr Topping started out in a Glasgow branch of William Hill as a teenager and returned to the business after university.
William Hill is not the only group facing shareholder ire. This month, Xstrata met with a hostile response over its remuneration policy, with only 68 per cent of shareholders backing the proposed payout to executives. Companies including Barclays, BP and Prudential have seen investors raise questions over management pay.
In February, easyJet founder Sir Stelios Haji-Ioannou led a shareholder revolt to block a £1m payment to former chief executive Andy Harrison.
William Hill revealed the lift in Mr Topping's pay in its annual report, which also showed a 60 per cent boost in pre-tax profits for 2010 to £193.3m, bolstered by a solid performance from its online operation.
William Hill is expanding in the US and last week bought its third sports-betting company in the country in as many weeks. It revealed it had sealed the deal for Brandywine Bookmaking, based in Nevada.
- 1 Cyclist who knocked down three-year-old girl says his life has been 'destroyed'
- 2 A politically correct lefty goes to see Top Gear live – you'll probably believe what happened next
- 3 Young Preston fan has play-off hero Jermaine Beckford's shirt stolen from him at Wembley - which then appears for sale on Gumtree
- 4 Isis burns woman alive for refusing to engage in 'extreme' sex act, UN says
- 5 Puerto Rico, island of lost dreams: People are leaving the debt-hit territory in droves as near neighbour Cuba's star rises
As a white man, I'm surprised more women aren't tweeting the hashtag #KillAllWhiteMen
Scotland may have to leave the EU even if it votes to stay in, David Cameron confirms
The day that Britain resigned as a global power
SNP fury as HS2 finds 'no business case' for taking fast train service to Scotland
EU referendum: David Cameron to deny EU migrants and under-18s the chance to vote
A nation of inequality: How the UK is failing to feed its most vulnerable people
iJobs Money & Business
£40-50K: Guru Careers: We are seeking an experienced Software / C# Developer w...
£45,000 - £55,000: Neil Pavier: Are you looking for your next opportunity for ...
£45,000 - £55,000: Sheridan Maine: Are you a newly qualified ACA/ACCA/ACMA qua...
£50,000 - £60,000: Laura Norton: Are you looking for an opportunity within a w...