Hammerson shareholders rebel over exec pay at AGM

Hammerson shareholders
// Nearly 30% of the Hammerson shareholders rejected its remuneration report at an AGM yesterday
// They said the declining share price was not taken into consideration when granting share-based awards

Hammerson has been dealt a blow by shareholders who voted in anger over excessive executive pay at the company’s AGM yesterday.

Nearly 30 per cent of the shopping centre giant’s investors rejected its remuneration report, which featured multimillion-pound share payouts to Hammerson executives.

Prior to the AGM, shareholder advisory group Institutional Shareholder Services (ISS) urged investors to vote against the report due to concerns over stock awards and bonuses worth millions dished out to top executives, including boss David Atkins.

ISS argued that this was an affront given Hammerson’s falling share price and failure to meet financial targets.

“The company’s declining share price has not been taken into consideration when granting share-based awards,” ISS had said.

“Further, a bonus was awarded to the outgoing executive directors despite the financial targets not being met and the company recording an operating loss.

“As such, support for the remuneration report is not considered warranted.”

After the vote at yesterday’s AGM, Hammerson said: “The board understands the concerns of some investors but notes that the reward structure is in line with the remuneration policy and recent previous practice.

“In the coming months the Remuneration Committee will be undertaking its regular triennial review of the remuneration structure and quantum, prior to submitting the revised remuneration policy to shareholders at the AGM in 2020.

“As part of that review, the views of shareholders and voting agencies will be considered, and further consultation undertaken, to ensure that executive reward continues to be aligned with shareholder interests.”

Hammerson president and chief executive David Atkins was paid £1.16 million last year, down from £1.8 million in 2017.

His salary rose to £639,000 from £623,000 and he received £307,000 in share awards under a long-term incentive plan, compared with £376,000 in 2017.

News of Hammerson’s AGM comes at a sensitive time for the company, which owns the Bulling in Birmingham, Brent Cross in London, and several other major shopping destinations.

In February, it swung to a loss after a year of retail failures put pressure on property values.

It recorded a loss before tax of £266.7 million, compared with a profit of £413 million in 2017.

Hammerson had also ditched its plan of a £3.4 billion buyout of its smaller rival Intu a year ago, and fought off an approach from French shopping centre group Klepierre.

Moreover, Hammerson has been selling off over £900 million of assets in response to the decline in UK retail.

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