LONDON, July 26 Fidelity Worldwide Investment, a
major shareholder in many of Britain's largest corporations, has
told firms in which it is invested that it wants boardroom pay
to be more closely aligned to executives' long-term commitment
to their companies.
In a letter to the companies, Chief Investment Officer for
Equities Dominic Rossi called for firms to impose a lock-in on
shares paid to executives, preventing bosses from cashing them
in for at least five years.
Fidelity also said it believed executives should receive
some of their pay in the form of 'career' shares which they must
hold until they leave the company.
The fund manager's letter to boards follows a run of
high-profile challenges - dubbed the 'shareholder spring' - to
executive pay packages by investors frustrated at rising
boardroom salaries at a time of declining share prices.
High-profile victims include Andrew Moss, the chief
executive of British insurer Aviva, who stepped down
after investors voted against his remuneration plans.
Shareholders at the world's largest advertising agency WPP
recently gave a thumbs-down to a big pay rise for chief
executive Martin Sorrell, with 59.5 percent of votes at the AGM
opposing its remuneration report.
Investors have also reacted angrily to a near
9-million-pound ($14 million) pay-off for the Barclays
investment banker at the centre of the Libor scandal which one
politician called a "reward for failure".
"In recent years the pay of top executives has increased
even as returns to shareholders have been poor and we believe
that the majority of schemes are insufficiently long-term in
their perspective," Rossi said in the letter.
"We have no objection to outstanding pay for outstanding
performance but the interests of managers and owners need to be
fully and transparently aligned and we hope that our revised
guidelines are a step in this direction."
(Reporting by Chris Vellacott; editing by Laurence Fletcher)