Financial News

  • 25 April 2014, 14:10

Barclays Board Face Angry Shareholders At AGM

Senior management of Barclays bank have faced angry shareholders at the bank's annual general meeting, with its chairman forced to defend its bonus payments.

Sir David Walker told shareholders there would have been an exodus of top executives if it did not raise bonus levels.

The meeting, held at London's Royal Festival Hall and attended by 840 people, was the scene of successive hostile questions and jeering from the audience.

Laughter erupted after one angry investor told the board of directors: "We're paying for Manchester United but we are getting Colchester United."

Outside the venue, protesters took potshots at the board over bonuses and alleged tax haven support.

Despite the criticism, the proposals to pay 2.4bn in bonuses in 2013 were rejected by just 24% of shareholders who voted while a resolution to pay bonuses of 200% salary in future was overwhelmingly supported.

Standard Life - with a 1.9% stake in the bank - went public ahead of the vote and said it would not support the remuneration committee's proposals.

Standard Life governance and stewardship director Alison Kennedy said its remuneration report recommendations had harmed the bank's brand.

"We are unconvinced that the amount of the 2013 bonus pool was in the best interests of shareholders," she said.

"Particularly when we consider how the bank's profits are divided amongst employees, shareholders and ongoing investment in the business."

On Tuesday, Sky News City Editor Mark Kleinman revealed the board would receive a mixed response from its powerful institutional investors.

The chairman told the AGM the bank was losing staff to US rivals as they paid up to 15% more.

He said the resignation rate for senior Barclays employees in the US almost doubled in 2013, amid increasing rejection of job offers at his bank.

Sir David said: "The challenge was the need for damage limitation and franchise protection... Despite all the reservations that have been expressed, I remain confident in my view that we took the right decision."

Chief executive Antony Jenkins also faced the hostile shareholders.

He has come under increasing criticism for bonus awards approved under his tenure.

Mr Jenkins is reviewing the future of the group's investment bank and will unveil the details on May 8.

As previously revealed by Kleinman, the CEO is expected to axe thousands of jobs to cut costs and help improve returns.

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