Outrage over BSkyB incentive plan

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The Independent Online

Shareholders in BSkyB yesterday expressed outrage at the lucrative incentive plan handed to the company's chief executive, Tony Ball, which came with no publicly stated performance targets.

Investors said Mr Ball was already heavily renumerated and the latest award made to him, likely to be worth at least £7.4m, flouted corporate governance best practice. One of Sky's institutional shareholders said: "We were already unhappy at Sky's incentive schemes as they offer far too much flexibility. This latest scheme simply takes advantage of that flexibility to throw Mr Ball a large retainer, with no need for shareholder approval."

Under the plan, Mr Ball will be given a cash bonus that would allow him to buy 908,000 BSkyB shares at 830p each, while its finance director, Martin Stewart, gets around half that amount. Half the awards can be exercised from July 2003 with the remainder a year later. The plan requires that "certain performance conditions are met".

Separately, NMT, the maker of safety syringes, has scrapped the conditions attached to directors' share options.