UK investor backlash hits Thomas Cook

Last updated 07:37 08/02/2013

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British travel firm Thomas Cook said investors holding almost 30 per cent of its stock voted against its remuneration report on Thursday, in a sign that shareholder anger over soaring executive earnings has not died down.

A large number of investors in British companies registered their disapproval of executive pay during the 2012 annual meetings season, an episode known as the 'shareholder spring'.

The significant vote against the salaries of executives at Thomas Cook, one of the first big British companies to hold its AGM in 2013, suggests the investor backlash against pay has not gone away.

Last year, it cost Aviva boss Andrew Moss, and Sly Bailey, then head of newspaper group Trinity Mirror their jobs, while there were also significant votes against management pay packages at companies such as advertising agency WPP and insurer Prudential.

Thomas Cook, the world's oldest travel group, said its remuneration report was approved by 70.3 per cent of votes cast, while 29.7 per cent voted against the resolution.

The company has issued a string of profit warnings and has been forced to renegotiate bank loans, but has seen a steady improvement in its finances since travel industry outsider Harriet Green took over as CEO last May.

"The board believes that the progress made by the company under the new leadership team and the very substantial shareholder value generated over the past six months fully justifies the remuneration decisions," Thomas Cook said in a statement. It did not give any details of the pay decisions.

Investors warned last year that the days of company resolutions being rubber-stamped were over and Britain said last year it planned to legislate to give shareholders the power to reject company director pay deals.

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- Reuters

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