SKB investors `relaxed' as Leschly earns pounds 90m

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LEADING shareholders in SmithKline Beecham yesterday said they were "relaxed" about the pounds 90m in salary and share options accumulated by Jan Leschly, the group's chief executive, since he joined in 1990, writes Francesco Guerrera.

SB's annual report, out yesterday, revealed that the 58-year-old Dane received a total salary of pounds 1.9m last year, down from pounds 2.4m in 1997, but his package was boosted by the award of shares and options worth about pounds 8.5m at yesterday's price.

The awards bring the total amount amassed by Mr Leschly during his nine years with the company to more than pounds 90m.

One investor said Mr Leschly's remuneration was in line with some US counterparts. "For most UK investors, these remuneration packages are gobsmackingly good in terms of share options, but they are in line with US standards. US companies give away share options like confetti."

Another noted that SB had rewarded investors by outperforming the London market by more than 20 per cent last year.

Other SB stock owners took a harder stance. One said Mr Leschly's future share options awards should be linked to the group's financial performance as well as its market performance. His pay also angered the MSF white- collar union.