Pendragon remuneration committee chair Mike Wright has left the car retail PLC after it emerged that the business looked set to face a third successive AGM shareholder revolt over its leadership bonuses.
The AM100 car retail group revealed that Mike Wright will be standing down as a non-executive director, including his role as chair of the Company's Remuneration Committee with immediate effect to pursue other interests in a statement issued via the London Stock Exchange this morning (June 1).
It comes just days after AM reported that influential shareholder advisory group Glass Lewis had branded the group’s decision to issue sizable bonuses in a year in which the business claimed almost £65m in COVID-19 support from the UK Government as “inappropriate”.
Glass Lewis had written to shareholders calling them to vote against the re-election of Pendragon’s remuneration committee chair, non-executive director Mike Wright and to reject the dealer group’s pay report.
Commenting on Wright’s departure, Pendragon’s non-executive chairman of Ian Filby said: "I would like to thank Mike for his support, guidance and contribution to the Company over the past four years, particularly through the challenges of the pandemic and in evolving and developing our strategy. The Board wishes him all the very best in his future endeavours."
Wright’s exit might prove enough to placate shareholders who had looked likely to stage a third AGM revolt over pay at Pendragon in just three years.
In May last year major Pendragon shareholder, Hedin Group, joined other key stakeholders in stating it would vote against “out of tune” bonus payments.
That move came after Bill Berman, Pendragon’s chief executive received payment of a deferred bonus worth £413,000 which looked set to take his annual rewards to £3.2m.
That payment was proposed despite the business’s axing of 1,800 jobs and utilisation of millions of pounds of taxpayers' money to furlough staff through the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme (CJRS).
At the time, Hedin Group boss Anders Hedin said: “This needs to stop as it is totally out of tune with what all other stakeholders in the company are experiencing and the amount of taxpayer support received.”
But Berman received his bonus payments despite a 41.04% against the re-election of non-executive director and remuneration board chairman Wright and 20.91% against the re-election of Berman to the board in a show of opposition against the payments.
Since then, Hedin has increased his stake in Pendragon to just over 25% of voting rights, taking the total to over 27% with a further share purchase this week.
A statement issued to AM by Pendragon about its proposed bonus payments in 2022, said: “Pendragon delivered a strong performance last year with new and used car sales ahead of our sector benchmarks, resulting in record underlying profits.
"The group also continued to make positive progress against its strategy despite operational challenges caused by the pandemic, including lockdowns in the early part of the year.
"The remuneration committee believes the rewards for the executive team and the wider operational management team are commensurate with this performance and in line with the wider sector, and the remuneration policy supports the longer-term success of the business for all stakeholders.”
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