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Sunday, June 20, 2021
Stocks & Shares

Morrisons hit by one of biggest shareholder revolts in UK

Morrisons

The investor revolt follows job losses, dividend cuts and unprecedented taxpayer support at Morrisons

Morrisons was yesterday hit by one of the biggest shareholder revolts in UK corporate history.

More than 70 per cent of shareholders rejected the decision to hand chief executive Dave Potts, 63, a big bonus after profit halved in the pandemic.

The investor revolt follows a year of job losses, dividend cuts and unprecedented taxpayer support at Morrisons.

Potts received the maximum £1.7million bonus, despite profits dropping to £165million from £435million the year before.

He was also given stock worth £1.4million, which the company has argued he deserved after leading the grocer through the crisis.

The board upgraded his payout by stripping out the £290million cost of the pandemic when calculating his rewards, which pushed his bonus up to 200 per cent of salary, and handed him a total pay packet of £4.2million.

The grocer said: Morrisons performed exceptionally well for the nation during the first year of Covid with the executives widely recognised for their leadership, clarity, decisiveness, compassion and speed of both decision-making and execution.

It is a matter of sincere regret to the committee that it clearly has not been able to convince a majority of shareholders – or the proxy voting agencies – that this was the right course of action, it said.

Shareholder advisory group Glass Lewis had said the adjustments were ‘not supportable’ while ISS said it had ‘serious concerns’.

Morrisons had been lauded for handing back £230million in business rates relief. The shareholder vote is advisory, meaning it is under no obligation to cut the pay.

The revolt is one of the largest at a UK public company, outstripping the 65 per cent of shareholders who rejected Persimmon boss Jeff Fairburn’s £75million in 2018, and on a par with the backlash against Royal Mail’s Rico Back the same year.

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