National Express ups bonuses for chiefs after profits slide

The coach and rail operator National Express has hiked the size of the potential bonuses it pays its chief executive and finance director despite a slump in annual profits.

The chief executive Dean Finch and finance director Jez Maiden can now collect up to 150 per cent salary, up from 125 per cent.

Both men earned bonuses worth 117 per cent of salary last year, even though pre-tax profit nearly halved to £70m.

Mr Finch's annual package fell 3 per cent on a year earlier to £1.4m, including a £644,000 bonus on top of his basic salary of £550,000.

National Express also handed Mr Finch a further £550,000 worth of free shares that will vest in five years as part of a long-term retention scheme. Mr Maiden's package rose to just over £1m.

The payouts came despite Mr Finch admitting in February that 2012 was "one of the most difficult years" in the 40-year history of NatEx's coach division.

NatEx insisted the higher "bonus opportunity" took into account "the size and complexity of the company" and it felt "necessary" because of "retention issues".

The chairman of the NatEx remuneration committee Sir Andrew Foster said it "was comfortable with the level of bonus earned".