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Vertu Motors criticised over CEO bonus payments proposal

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Vertu Motors could be the latest AM100 car retail PLC to face a backlash over bonus payments to its chief executive.

The group told AM that executives had waived their entitlement to a bonus but its remuneration committee elected to award reduced bonuses following 'significant progress' by the firm.

CEO Robert Forrester is expected to receive £200,000 in bonus payments.

A spokesperson for Vertu Motors said: "The executive directors waived their entitlement to all bonuses for the financial year. In light of the significant progress made and outstanding leadership of the executive team the remuneration committee elected to award reduced but one off bonuses to the executives, payable 50% in cash and 50% in shares in the company.

"This was progressed after engaging directly with several of the largest shareholders on the issue.”

But Andrew Speke, of the High Pay Centre, told The Mail on Sunday newspaper it was “absurd” that a six-figure sum should be awarded by a business which had accepted millions of pounds in COVID-19 support from the UK Government.

Vertu claimed £27.8m under the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme (CJRS) and £8.7m in business rates relief last year – also cutting 345 jobs.

Last month AM reported that Pendragon chief executive Bill Berman would receive bonus payments previously criticised as being “out of tune” despite a 42.2% vote against the PLC’s director remuneration at its AGM.

The moves came as Pendragon were set to table the proposed remuneration report, which included the payment of a deferred bonus worth £413,000 to Berman – a payment that looked set to take his annual rewards to £3.2m.

Pendragon’s decision to award bonus payments followed the Pendragon’s axing of 1,800 jobs and utilisation of millions of pounds of taxpayers' money to furlough staff through the CJRS in 2020.

Meanwhile, Marshall Motor Holdings chief executive Daksh Gupta told AM “I can hold my head high” after the AM100 car retailer vowed to repay £4m in Government COVID support – and still match its 2019 financial performance in 2021.

And while Gupta and his fellow company leaders had not been handed performance bonuses, and dividend payments continued to be paused, he told AM that Marshall employees would be given “immediate” pay reviews after a pause on pay rises in 2020.

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