International edition
September 25, 2020

Ralph Topping said he understood “the sensitivity” around” the issue

Ladbrokes shareholders set to mirror William Hill pay protest

(UK).- Investors voted 176m shares against William Hill’s remuneration report last week as they rebelled over the increase in the basic pay of Ralph Topping, who has led the company since March 2008. Some 331m of shares were voted in favor, with 25m abstentions.

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hareholders objected to the jump in Topping’s basic wage from us$ 775,039 to us$ 881,096 in a year when he earned a total us$ 2.6 million.

A William Hill spokesman said it was Topping’s first rise since becoming CEO because of 2009’s pay freeze. It reflected “the significant progress the business has made under his leadership”, bringing his pay “more in line with other companies of our size and complexity”.

Topping believed the revolt was because the rise “went through the magic number of 10 %. I got appointed below the level of the previous incumbent and accepted that. When we went into a downturn I went to the board and said 'we are going to implement a pay freeze, forget my review until things improve.”

Topping said he understood “the sensitivity” around” the issue, adding: “Maybe we didn’t explain it as well as we should have done.”

At Ladbrokes, about 30 % of voting shareholders are expected to signal their disapproval at a us$ 571,081 retention bonus awarded to Brian Wallace, the outgoing finance director, who was paid a total us$ 2.5 million last year.

Ladbrokes offered Wallace the bonus, worth 70 % of his basic pay, after he told the board he wanted to leave – just as Ladbrokes parted company with former CEO Chris Bell. Once the bonus vested, Wallace quit.

A senior Ladbrokes source said: “There’s a general feeling that shareholders don’t like retention bonuses but we believe we did the best thing for the company. After parting company with the CEO we did not want to lose the finance director too.”

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