Pay team want Greenbury out of firing line

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The Independent Online
Sir Richard Greenbury is under pressure to take a back seat and hand the presentation job over to one of the other members of the committee when his controversial report on executive pay is published next month,

Pressure to keep him from the spotlight emerged as political embarrassment grew over Sir Richard's own pounds 118,000 pay increase, which led to a new Labour onslaught in the Commons on Wednesday and a demand from Gordon Brown, the shadow Chancellor, that the Government set up an official inquiry of its own into top pay.

Yesterday further political trouble was stoked up for Sir Richard, chairman of Marks and Spencer, when it emerged that Nigel Colne, a fellow director in charge of franchising, received pounds 1.1m last year, including pounds 813,000 in profits on share options.

It is understood that the issue of who will front the publicity operation for the report on executive pay was already on the table weeks before Marks and Spencer's figures came out.

Sir Richard is said to be uneasy at handling public events and has been known on occasion to take a highly robust stance in response to aggressive questioning.

Advisers and fellow members of the committee are believed to see a serious risk of the publicity misfiring in the intense political and media spotlight that will be put on the report, given the near certainty that Sir Richard will be accused in some quarters of being soft on executive greed.

These risks are likely to increase now that he is bound to be cross-questioned on his own pay rise and the share options of his co-directors.

The Government has been anxiously watching successive drafts of the report of the committee, which was set up as an independent body but on the secret instigation of John Major and Michael Heseltine, with the Confederation of British Industry as intermediary.

The report's recommendations are expected to be in line with best practice as far as big companies are concerned, but are thought unlikely to meet the political expectations raised by the Government earlier this year.

The Government has been considering whether to take the initiative itself if the report is not tough enough, although this could be delayed by the leadership contest.

Suggestions for other committee members to front on publication day, scheduled for 19 July, include Tim Melville-Ross, the highly articulate director-general of the Institute of Directors, and Sir Iain Vallance, chairman of BT. But one difficulty is that nobody on the committee relishes being at the centre of the inevitable political row.

Nigel Colne, Marks and Spencer's international franchise director, received a total of pounds 1.1m last year - more even than his chairman, Sir Richard.

Mr Colne, 54, was paid a salary of pounds 297,000 including a pounds 46,000 bonus. But his package was boosted by pounds 813,780 when he cashed in more than 350,000 share options during the year.

Mr Colne has been with Marks and Spencer for more than 25 years.

His position as international franchise director involves the overseeing of the group's 73 franchises overseas.

His shareholding in the company had increased from 74,000 to 315,000 by the end of the year, implying that Mr Colne used the bulk of his windfall to buy more M&S shares.

He now owns more than 10 times the number held by Sir Richard, who holds 27,000 shares but options on almost a million.

Marks and Spencer maintains that the payments are justified by the performance of the company: "There is no embarrassment."

Marks & Spencer money league

Name Pay Options Total

Nigel Colne, pounds 297,000 pounds 813,780 pounds 1.11m

International franchise director

Sir Richard Greenbury pounds 807,000 pounds 91,000 pounds 898,000

Chairman

Chris Littmoden pounds 439,000 - pounds 439,000

International franchise director

Andrew Stone pounds 300,000 pounds 125,950 pounds 425,950

Joint managing director

Guy McCracken pounds 301,000 pounds 9,540 pounds 310,540

Joint MD

Peter Salisbury pounds 299,000 - pounds 299,000

Joint MD

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