There was a time when the £450,000 pay-off that George Entwistle received – £225,000 over and above his contractual entitlement – would not have stirred the anger of City investors should the BBC have been a stock market-listed company.
After all, fund managers are used to seeing executives carry large sums out of the door. Remember the former Royal Bank of Scotland boss Fred Goodwin received as much as that £225,000 in just eight months of drawing his (reduced) pension.
But times have changed.
Middling stock market returns prompted the shareholder spring in which overpaid, underperforming bosses were ousted from a string of big companies this year. The value-for-money mood is here to stay. Some of those chiefs caused a stir for merely trying to carry off salary and bonuses to which they were contractually entitled. More fool investors for signing off on those packages in the first place.
However, discretionary payments have been raising hackles for years.
Few City chairmen would resort to the L'Oréal defence any more: because he's worth it. Grandees such as Lord Patten must understand that just doesn't wash any more, particularly when the company that Entwistle leaves behind has seen its metaphoric share price collapse so spectacularly.
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