Ocado boss Tim Steiner gets £54m bonus approved

Ocado founder and chief executive Tim Steiner has been given the green light by shareholders for a £54 million bonus.

At the online supermarket and logistics annual general meeting on Wednesday morning, held behind closed doors due to the coronavirus lockdown, shareholders voted by 70% in favour of the plans.

The result for the meeting was published late on Wednesday afternoon, after stock markets closed.

A sizeable revolt of 30% against it is likely to be felt in the boardroom and follows similar dissent a year ago over the huge amounts handed to executives.

The victory comes despite investor advisory groups calling the payout “excessive compensation”.

Ocado results
Ocado results

Glass Lewis, one advisory business, also recommended shareholders vote out director Andrew Harrison, who chairs Ocado’s remuneration committee that sets pay levels.

He received a 20% vote against re-election – the highest protest of all the directors, including chairman Lord (Stuart) Rose.

Another advisory group, Institutional Shareholder Services, made similar recommendations against the bonus and one investor – Royal London Asset Management (RLAM)- said it would use its 0.3% stake to vote against the plans.

RLAM said this year’s bonus bonanza was “a classic example of how poorly-designed incentive plans can lead to excessive awards for management”.

Mr Steiner and his team were promised the free shares in 2014 under a five-year plan based on boosting the share price, including £54 million paid out this year.

But some investors prefer signs of long-term growth over short-term artificial share price targets and have attempted to vote down the proposals.

Lord Rose, Ocado’s chairman, said Ocado recognised the “sensitivities around executive pay”, but that the pay schemes had been approved and the payouts had been earned.

He said: “The award reflects outstanding performance over a five-year period during which £7.5 billion of value was created for Ocado shareholders.

“The remuneration committee is satisfied that Ocado’s pay schemes past and present, all of which have already been approved by shareholders, deliver above-market pay-outs only for outstanding results.”