Sir Martin Sorrell's WPP joins pay revolt as Kentz and Chime feel the anger of shareholders

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The Independent Online

The engineer Kentz and the PR firm Chime yesterday became the latest companies to feel the wrath of shareholders over their pay policies, capping a week of investor unrest at a string of companies including ITV and BG Group.

Kentz suffered the largest shareholder protest vote so far this year. Holders of 49.7 per cent of its shares voted down its remuneration report – and including withheld votes that rose to more than 60 per cent.

The engineering and construction group responded after the meeting, saying it would draw up a new pay policy and put it to shareholders "in due course". This was the first time Kentz allowed shareholders a vote on pay, having previously avoided it through its registration in Jersey.

Meanwhile, WPP, the advertising giant and the top shareholder in Chime, refused to back the PR firm's pay policies at its annual meeting yesterday.

A quarter of Chime shareholders refused to back its future remuneration policy and 22 per cent did not back last year's remuneration report. WPP, which has a 17.7 per cent stake in Chime, and most other dissenting shareholders abstained rather than rejecting Chime's resolutions on pay.

However, 96 per cent of votes cast were in favour of its remuneration policy and 99 per cent approved its remuneration report at the annual meeting.

That was a big improvement on a year ago when Chime's chairman, Lord Davies, faced a major row as 57 per cent failed to back the bonus scheme and 48 per cent did not back the remuneration report.

This year's abstentions show that tensions persist between Chime and Sir Martin Sorrell's WPP.

WPP opposed Chime's sale of the public relations agency Bell Pottinger in 2012 and it is understood Sir Martin's group was also unhappy with Chime's acquisition of Lord Coe's Complete Leisure Group.

Relations worsened last October when Chime bought the US motor-racing business JMI, prompting WPP to warn that it would look at selling.

On Thursday, 42 per cent revolted over pay at the insurer Hiscox and 34 per cent at energy firm BG. A quarter revolted over ITV's pay as City watchdogs get tough on pay and bonuses.