FirstGroup suffers investor revolt over director pay

Train and bus operator FirstGroup has been dealt a blow at its annual meeting, as a significant number of investors opposed a resolution on director pay.

Large numbers also opposed the re-elections of several directors, with the biggest levels of opposition for remuneration chairwoman Imelda Walsh and non-executive director Jim Winestock.

Almost a quarter of votes cast by shareholders were against approving the directors’ remuneration report, with 23.68% in opposition.

Ms Walsh, who is responsible for the remuneration report, was opposed by 39.9% of voters, while Mr Winestock faced a 37.34% rebellion.

Another resolution, which will authorise the company to make political donations and incur political expenditure, met with 22.9% opposition.

In response to the results, the company said: “The board notes that more than 20% of shareholders voted against four of the resolutions put to today’s meeting.

“The board takes seriously its responsibility to understand shareholders’ opinions and will continue to discuss investors’ views on these and other matters as part of our ongoing programme of engagement.”

The votes comes just a few weeks after the company defeated attempts by an activist investor to oust six board members, including the chief executive and chairman.

Chairman Wolfhart Hauser said at the time that he would step down.

In a statement released prior to the AGM, FirstGroup said a “formal and rigorous process” was under way to select a new chairman.

Senior independent director David Robbie will serve as interim chairman from Thursday.

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