The recent annual general meeting held by Vodafone AirTouch was overshadowed by the company shareholders’ protests against the recent decision to award a £10m bonus to chief executive Chris Gent. Investors remain unimpressed with Vodafone. They believe that paying huge performance bonuses to senior executives before any evidence of real and sustainable shareholder value amounts to putting the cart before the horse.
During the event, the company chiefs tried to woo critics by apologising for failing to handle the controversial matter sensitively. But chairman Lord MacLaurin was confronted with loud echoes of “Can we have our £10m back please?” from disgruntled shareholders.
Although a significant proportion of minority shareholders voted against or abstained on the important issue of the chairman’s reappointment and the company’s pay policy, the vote was nevertheless carried by more than a two-to-one majority. Gent defended his windfall pay and appeared to blame the adverse press reports on the lack of spin by Vodafone to soften the impact of the news on shareholders. Since the AGM, the company’s share price has fallen, further deepening shareholders’ disappointment.
Take-off in business leads to 10,000 new jobs at BAe
BAe Systems, the UK aerospace and defence company, announced the creation of more than 10,000 new jobs in Britain as a result of business growth enjoyed by European aerospace company Airbus Industrie. At least a dozen European countries have agreed to buy more than 225 aircraft from Airbus.
BAe, which is a partner with 20 per cent stake in the Airbus business, is confident about the level of new jobs that would be created in the UK. BAe also expects many UK companies in the supply chain to benefit from the Airbus business. The new jobs are expected to be spread across the country. BAe’s share price has experienced mixed fortunes in the past week.