Salary accelerator works for Persil Power chiefs

The man behind what has been described as Unilever's biggest marketing setback has become the group's highest-paid director.

Niall FitzGerald saw his total pay package rise to £864,240 last year, overtaking the chairman, Sir Michael Perry, who received £818,950.

As "detergents co-ordinator", Mr FitzGerald has been put in charge of a damage-limitation exercise, which is overhauling procedures in anattempt to avoid a repeat of last year's disastrous launch of Persil Power.

Earlier this year, Sir Michael called that "the greatest marketing setback we've seen", after Unilever was forced into an admission that its new detergent damaged clothes by an advertising campaign run by arch-rivals Procter & Gamble.

His comment came as Unilever revealed it was writing £57m off its investment in Persil Power, which contained a new manganese "accelerator" said to have enhanced cleaning properties.

Unilever's annual report, published yesterday, shows that Mr FitzGerald received a basic salary plus benefits totalling £679,803. A spokesman for Unilever said the figure wasinflated by unspecified relo-cation expenses to cover his move from Rotterdam to London in 1993.

On top of his ordinary salary, he received £184, 437 in performance-related payments, which included the exercise of 69,651 options at prices ranging from 507p to 730p. Unilever said these included "mirror options" granted on the Dutch part of his salary to compensate for his being disallowed options in the London-quoted arm of the group when he was finance director in the late 1980s.

Sir Michael saw his basic pay rise 14.6 per cent to £686,890 last year, while performance-related payments more than doubled to £132,060 from £63,600 the year before. He exercised a total of 51,995 options at prices ranging from 507p to 663p.

In addition, contributions to the company pension scheme totalled £18,962 for Mr FitzGerald and £35,889 for Sir Michael.

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