Shareholders' fury at 'obscene' ITV pay-off

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The Independent Online

One in seven ITV shareholders yesterday failed to support the re-election of former Carlton directors in protest at the "obscene" £15m pay-off received by Carlton's former chairman Michael Green.

The ITV plc annual meeting, held in London yesterday, was dominated by the issue of the £15m that Mr Green was awarded after he was prevented from becoming the chairman of ITV.

Mr Green was the chairman of Carlton, which merged with Granada earlier this year to form ITV. Sir Brian Pitman, the senior Carlton director, who is now an ITV director, bore the brunt of shareholder anger. One private investor told the AGM: "It is obscene that you have given £15m of ours to Michael Green. He got it because of dereliction of duty of the [Carlton] board.... You have failed, Sir Brian."

Sir Brian told the AGM the size of the payout was determined by the law. "There was no choice. I was not happy about the amount," he said.

There was little opposition to the re-election of former Granada directors. However, the three ex-Carlton men, Sir Brian, John McGrath and Etienne de Villier, attracted significant protest votes. Counting votes against and abstentions, 17.5 per cent of the votes cast failed to back Sir Brian, while 15.3 per cent did not support the other two directors.

Speaking after the meeting, Sir Peter Burt, newly installed as chairman of ITV, said his recent meeting with Greg Dyke, the former director-general of the BBC, was about "getting to know" the industry. There had been speculation that Mr Dyke was being lined up to replace Charles Allen, ITV's chief executive.

During the meeting Mr Allen warned that if the chief executive failed to perform, he would be replaced. "...If the dog [chief executive] doesn't bark, you replace the dog."