THE BOTTOM LINE
Lots of grumbles about Barclays Africa wages
Bank promises to engage with rebellious shareholders
It’s difficult not to feel a little cynical about the engagement process that the Barclays’ Africa board is going to have with shareholders on the issue of its remuneration policy.
At the AGM held on Tuesday, chairperson of the board Wendy Lucas-Bull told shareholders that she and remuneration committee chairperson Paul O’ Flaherty were committed to engaging with shareholders “and will get back to them on a series of matters that have been raised”.Shareholders holding 47.4% voted against the remuneration implementation report and nearly a quarter voted against the remuneration policy, so that must be the core matter.
Lucas-Bull’s commitment suggests shareholder concern about the bank’s remuneration policy is something new. It is anything but. While the bank was majority-owned by Barclays UK, the local executives were able to shelter behind the much greater tolerance of remuneration excess in that part of the world. Now that shelter has been removed, and so we’re all reminded of what a long-term issue this has been for South African shareholders.
Back in May 2014 the then chairperson of the remuneration committee, Brand Pretorius, promised a “postmortem” on the remuneration policy following a “no” vote by 18.4% of the shareholders. He said the bank was soliciting feedback from shareholders who voted against the policy. Presumably soliciting feedback didn’t actually mean the board had to do anything about the concerns of the local shareholders.
It might be a little different this time around, or not. Local regulations place no obligation on boards to act on shareholder concerns.