PRWEEK AWARDS 2003: Corporate & Public - The Xchangeteam Award - Financial


Association of British Insurers/National Association of Pension Funds

On 19 May this year, shareholders at GlaxoSmithKline's AGM sent a clear message to company bosses: excessive pay packages will lead to shareholder revolt.

Investors were outraged by GSK chief executive Jean-Pierre Garnier's 'golden parachute' pay deal, worth £22m if he lost his job, and voted against it in an unprecedented example of shareholder activism.

The National Association of Pension Funds (NAPF) has been a leading voice on the corporate governance debate, representing its eight million working members.

The Association of British Insurers (ABI) represents the largest group of institutional investors in the UK, and bears significant responsibility to act on corporate governance issues.

In view of the DTI's new regulations on shareholders being allowed to vote on remuneration, both organisations highlighted how shareholder activism could work and how companies should heed the new regulations on executive pay.

NAPF made its case in media interviews in May, explaining that the organisation was not against directors receiving world-class rewards for world-class performance.

But it gave details to journalists of companies that failed to meet best practice in corporate governance in advance of their AGMs.

The ABI deliberately targeted GSK as an example of 'payment for failure'.

The campaign began on 28 April with the placement of an article by ABI head of investment affairs Peter Montagnon in the Financial Times. The ABI then met the GSK chairman to maintain high-level contact.

On the day of the GSK AGM, Montagnon attended, appearing as a commentator on a number of news networks.

In the event, GSK lost by 50.72 per cent against 49.28 per cent in the shareholder vote - a slim margin, but a resounding victory for the shareholders and the ABI and NAPF campaigns.


In January, Wm Morrison launched its initial £2.9bn bid for the UK's fourth-largest supermarket, Safeway, but the board held out for a higher bid given the flurry of interest, notably from Tesco, J Sainsbury and Asda/Wal-Mart.

Sir Ken Morrison was clear in all interviews that competition was the key to Morrisons's success in the bid battle.

Despite the potential distraction of the takeover, Morrisons generated a 13 per cent rise in sales during February and the first week of March.

In September, the Competition Commission prohibited the larger supermarket rivals from bidding.

Tight restrictions were placed on bidders such as Bhs and Arcadia fashion group owner Philip Green.

Wm Morrison's bid has been allowed to go ahead on the condition the company disposes of 53 stores.

As the PRWeek Awards supplement went to press, Sir Ken had entered negotiations with the Office of Fair Trading to decide which 53 stores to dispose of, indicating Morrisons would probably pull off the deal.


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