Bob Diamond, the chief executive of Barclays, should not receive a bonus, and perhaps instead should be considered for a pay clawback, according to a shareholder advisory group.
According to a Monday report in The Telegraph, Pensions and Investors Research Consultants (PIRC) advised shareholders to vote against Barclays' remuneration report. The group said in its report to shareholders that, considering the bank's performance, the pay structure is inappropriate.
PIRC said in the report, “In view of the fact that Barclays’ shares are trading far below net asset value, we cannot think of any circumstances in which a chief executive who was part of a team when the bank got into this predicament should be receiving any bonus at all, indeed the board should also be considering clawbacks itself.”
There have already been rumblings by shareholders over pay in bank meetings, and the PIRC report indicates that the bank may face more than just rumblings at its annual meeting, scheduled for April 27. Some of the bank's largest investors, including Standard Life, Fidelity, Aviva and Scottish Widows, have already indicated that they plan to protest Diamond's compensation package.
PIRC was also critical of a so-called “tax equalization charge” paid to Diamond because he is an American. In its report, PIRC said, “An argument for high levels of executive remuneration is that there is a going rate for international executives which includes their need to move from their normal domicile. If that is the case, then any differential tax (due to relocation) should already be reflected in the going rate for the job.”
The group added: “Any bonus including compensation for the differential tax rates is evidence of the inappropriateness of a scheme that delivers such a result in such circumstances.”
In addition, Citywire Money reported that such a payment might violate guidelines put in place last year by the Association of British Insurers (ABI). If that is the case, it could mean more difficulties for Barclays than anticipated, since ABI exerts substantial influence on the votes of institutional investors at annual meetings.
Barclays has held that its compensation structure should not be subject to the same criticism as Lloyds Banking Group or Royal Bank of Scotland (RBS) because, unlike them, it did not accept government bailout money. However, PIRC addressed that sentiment as well, saying, “Although the bank has not failed in the classic sense, trading below net asset value is an investment failure from the perspective of the shareholders.”
PIRC also recommended that investors should vote against Alison Carnworth, head of the remuneration committee, because she approved Diamond’s compensation; Sir Mike Rake’s reelection as audit committee chairman; and PricewaterhouseCoopers as auditors.