Glaxo survives vote on boardroom pay

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The Independent Online

GlaxoSmithKline, Britain's largest drugs company, was subjected to attacks from shareholders yesterday over pay, animal rights and its policy on drugs for Aids at its annual general meeting in London.

GlaxoSmithKline, Britain's largest drugs company, was subjected to attacks from shareholders yesterday over pay, animal rights and its policy on drugs for Aids at its annual general meeting in London.

However, the company escaped the humiliating defeat on its remuneration policy which last year was the high water mark of shareholder protest against "fat cat" pay in British boardrooms.

Sir Christopher Hogg, making his last appearance as chairman at Glaxo's AGM, admitted the company had scored an "own goal" in 2003, after it pushed ahead with a deal for Jean-Pierre Garnier, Glaxo's chief executive, which could have awarded him £22m if he had left.

In comparison with the 51 per cent protest vote last year, 18 per cent did not support Mr Garnier's deal this time. Aspects of his pay and pension have been brought more into line with UK standards of good corporate governance to win the support of institutional shareholders.

But a string of shareholders at the meeting in London were incensed by Glaxo's pay deals which, according to some reports, could entitle Mr Garnier to up to £18m a year.

Martin Simmond, a private shareholder, said: "This is avarice and grossly offensive to professional people." Michael Jackson, a shareholder and former employee of Glaxo, asked: "When are you going to establish a realistic balance between the board's pay and other members of this superb organisation?"

Before the meeting, members of the Amicus union protested at the executives' double digit jumps in pay, which compared with just 2 per cent increases for many of its members.

Looking stony-faced and, at times, shaken, Sir Christopher also had to ask security at the Queen Elizabeth II Conference Centre to remove members of a group called Stevenage Animal Rights, who shouted out: "You set a rat and we see a life. You are Glaxo the serial killers."

Glaxo is lining up Sir Christopher Gent, the former chief executive of Vodafone, to replace its chairman. The company is expected to announce his appointment within a few weeks.

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