Top pay at Barclays hidden from public view

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The Independent Online
BARCLAYS Bank has changed the way in which its top directors are paid, so preventing public scrutiny of their remuneration.

The move, contrary to common practice for large companies in Britain, is likely to be queried by shareholders at the annual meeting this afternoon in London. Executives, including Andrew Buxton, chairman, were already expected to come under fire after writing off pounds 2.5bn of bad debts last year following a series of disastrous loans.

Under company law, the public is allowed to examine the precise conditions of directors' contracts of employment in the three weeks before an annual meeting, but the rule does not apply if the contracts are for less than one year. Barclays recently changed the terms of its directors' contracts in this way, and its 1992 annual report confirmed: 'No director has a service agreement of more than one year's duration.'

The report gave bare details of directors' salaries, disclosing that the highest-paid director, thought to be David Band of its investment bank BZW, earned pounds 524,000 last year. However, the employment contracts would have disclosed such details as company cars and other perks and notice terms.

The subject of pay is particularly sensitive for Barclays shareholders. Mr Buxton recently bowed to pressure from institutional investors and agreed to split the roles of chairman and chief executive. A new chief executive is being sought.

A spokesman for Barclays would not say when the directors were transferred to individual contracts of less than one year, but it was 'as and when they came up for renewal over the last couple of years'.

This meant the bank had no commitment longer than a year. He denied that the motive was to conceal the contracts.