Unilever boss could see pay rocket after pocketing over £10m

The boss of consumer goods giant Unilever saw his pay package surge by 51% to 11.6 million euros (£10.3 million) in 2017 and is line for a bumper hike in salary and potential bonuses under an overhaul of executive pay.

Chief executive Paul Polman's mammoth 2017 pay deal includes a 1.15 million euro (£1 million) annual salary, 2.3 million euro (£2 million) annual bonus and 7.2 million euros (£6.4 million) in long-term bonus scheme shares, according to the group's annual report.

It marks a big rise on his 7.7 million euro (£6.8 million) pay package for 2016.

And Unilever revealed plans to hike his total fixed pay, including salary and benefits, by 5% to £1.45 million in 2018 under a pay review that could also hand him up to 11.2 million euros (£9.9 million) in bonuses and shares a year.

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This would mark a 23% rise in the current maximum potential for bonuses.

Unilever said its remuneration committee was "of the view that this increased maximum opportunity is fully justified by higher risk and more stretching performance requirements".

But it risks stoking controversy over pay in the upcoming annual general meeting season.

Unilever said its new pay plans will see a raft of changes, including the requirement for bosses to invest up to 67% of their annual bonus in Unilever shares, which they need to hold for at least four years.

The remuneration committee added that to earn the maximum pay under the new five-year incentive plan, bosses will have to "deliver truly outstanding performance over the full five years".

Details of its pay plans follow results for the Anglo-Dutch group earlier this month showing a 9% increase in annual profits to 8.15 billion euros (£7.1 billion).

Unilever, which is behind well-known household brands such as Dove, Marmite and Ben & Jerry's ice cream, was boosted by a strong performance in emerging markets.

The results come after the group fended off a 143 billion (£115 billion) takeover attempt from Kraft Heinz last year, after which it offloaded its spreads business for 6.8 billion euros (£6 billion) to KKR.

As part of a rethink of the business after the hostile Kraft approach, Unilever is also reviewing its dual-headed legal structure in a move that is set to see it consolidate its headquarters in the UK or the Netherlands.

Its decision is reportedly due in the next two weeks and is being closely watched amid reports that it could ditch the UK HQ.

In the group's annual report, chairman Marijn Dekkers said: "While no decisions have yet been taken, the board considers that unification with a single share class would be in the best interests of Unilever and its shareholders as a whole.

"Whatever the outcome of the dual-headed structure review, the board is determined that Unilever will remain at the forefront of good corporate governance and to that end we have already announced that it would be our intention to maintain listings in the Netherlands, the UK and the US."