Shareholder backlash at Hammerson over executive pay
A shareholder advisory group has recommended investors to vote against executive payouts at Hammerson’s annual general meeting on Tuesday, arguing that they fail to reflect the company’s declining performance.
The owner of shopping centres including the Bullring in Birmingham, Westquay in Southampton and Brent Cross in London could potentially face a shareholder rebellion this week. It would be a further blow to the company after 12 turbulent months.
In 2018, Hammerson swung to a loss of £268 million from profits of £388 million a year earlier, and saw the value of its UK assets fall by 10.7%. The results, coupled with the firm’s withdrawal from a £3.4 billion buyout of its smaller rival Intu, led to the share price dropping substantially - down 40% in the past year.
In December, two executive directors Peter Cole and Jean-Philippe Mouton stepped down from the board, taking bonuses of £140,000 and £116,000 respectively. Cole, who was chief investment officer will be retained in a consultancy basis until 2020, while Jean-Philippe Mouton will remain as managing director of the Hammerson’s French business.
But shareholder advisory group Institutional Shareholder Services (ISS) has criticised the bonuses given to Cole and Mouton.
“The company’s declining share price has not been taken into consideration when granting share-based awards,” it said in a statement.
“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.”
Hammerson’s shareholders will meet at the company’s annual general meeting taking place in London on Tuesday morning. Chief executive officer David Atkins and chairman David Tyler are amongst those seeking reelection this week.
The company has come under pressure amid seismic changes in the broader retail sector. The lack of confidence amongst businesses and consumers, as well as the long number of retailers launching CVAs last year, has created a weak environment for retail property in the last year.
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