Major investors to tackle boards over executive pay

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The Independent Online

The UK's biggest investors will lead a crackdown on excessive boardroom pay, according to an exclusive poll of 200 leading City fund managers for The Independent on Sunday.

The survey, carried out by Capital Spreads, found 58 per cent of fund managers agreed that major institutional investors are "set to become more interventionist" on salaries for top executive pay.

The signs of the shift in attitude come after a week when David Cameron lambasted "rewards for failure" among leading businesses, with the threat of new legislation to bring in binding shareholder votes on pay packages later this year. On Friday, Lloyds Banking Group chief executive Antonio Horta-Osorio decided against accepting his annual bonus, having taken two months off on medical leave at the end of 2011.

Capital Spreads' chief executive Simon Denham said: "There is obviously political capital to be made from beating up senior executives in corporate Britain and our survey shows that institutional investors are evidently beginning to feel the pressure to take a more proactive stance on pay."

Former City minister Lord Myners first accused major institutional investors of being "absentee landlords" in the wake of the financial crisis in 2009, urging them to take a more proactive stance on pay and governance.

Recent findings from the Institute of Public Policy Research revealed that chief executives in 87 of the FTSE 100 companies received an average of £5.1 million in pay, bonuses, shares and pension contributions in the 2010-11 financial year, a rise of 33 per cent which far outstripped the average rise in share prices.

The IoS survey also found that 57 per cent of fund managers think struggling Greece will pull out of the euro this year, with one in four believing Italy may even be forced to pull out of the single currency bloc.