In­ter­serve’s boss faces share­holder re­volt on pay

Protest comes amid a wider back­lash against bumper wages handed to com­pany ex­ec­u­tives

The Sunday Telegraph - Money & Business - - Business - By Rhi­an­non Curry

SHARE­HOLD­ERS are be­ing called on to vote against In­ter­serve’s chief ex­ec­u­tive Deb­bie White’s pay packet at its an­nual gen­eral meet­ing (AGM) this week over con­cerns about her gen­er­ous bonus.

Ms White was paid £525,900 in the four months be­tween her join­ing the com­pany in Septem­ber and the end of last year, com­pris­ing a salary of £216,667 and a bonus of £270,089 plus other con­tri­bu­tions.

But share­holder ad­vi­sory firm Glass Lewis said it had con­cerns about the pay deal, es­pe­cially her bonus which is 125pc of her salary, the most she could have earned un­der In­ter­serve’s re­mu­ner­a­tion scheme.

The bonus was de­pen­dent on Ms White meet­ing cer­tain cri­te­ria in­clud­ing de­liv­er­ing a re­cov­ery plan to re­or­gan­ise the busi­ness and in­still­ing con­fi­dence in In­ter­serve’s “key stake­hold­ers”. The com­pany’s an­nual re­port sug­gests she met all of these cri­te­ria in full, mean­ing she was el­i­gi­ble for the max­i­mum pay­out.

A share­holder back­lash would be the lat­est bump in the road for In­ter­serve in what has proven to be a rocky year.

It nar­rowly avoided breach­ing its loan covenants in De­cem­ber af­ter years of chas­ing nar­row mar­gins on con­tracts left it in dire fi­nan­cial straits.

But the com­pany signed off on a re­fi­nanc­ing deal ear­lier this year that gave it £196.6m in cash loans and £94.5m in bond fa­cil­i­ties, sig­nalling some­thing of a re­prieve.

The money was pro­vided by a group of lenders led by Emer­ald In­vest­ment, the fam­ily of­fice of Scot­tish mil­lion­aire in­vestor Alan Mcin­tosh. The Sun­day

Tele­graph re­vealed Mr Mcin­tosh’s in­volve­ment in the deal in March.

Share­hold­ers will meet on Tues­day for the com­pany’s AGM where they will vote on the re­mu­ner­a­tion re­port, al­though the vote is non-bind­ing.

The concern around Ms White’s pay comes amid a wider push­back from share­hold­ers over ex­ces­sive di­rec­tor re­mu­ner­a­tion. Last week, the chair­man of house-builder Per­sim­mon’s re­mu­ner­a­tion com­mit­tee told the busi­ness, en­ergy and in­dus­trial strat­egy se­lect com­mit­tee that the com­pany was con­sid­er­ing pay­ing bonuses to all staff as it strug­gles to defuse anger over its chief ex­ec­u­tive’s £109m pay­out.

Mar­ion Sears said this could al­low other staff to ben­e­fit from the com­pany’s suc­cess, a com­ment echoed by her coun­ter­part at en­gi­neer­ing group Weir.

Ms White was brought in to In­ter­serve fol­low­ing the de­par­ture of pre­vi­ous boss Adrian Rin­grose who stepped down amid pu­n­ish­ing profit warn­ings and spi­ralling costs.

The com­pany builds pris­ons and hos­pi­tals, cleans rail­way sta­tions and over­sees events in­clud­ing the Ed­in­burgh Mil­i­tary Tat­too.

It has been par­tic­u­larly hit in re­cent years by huge ex­tra costs as­so­ci­ated with an en­ergy-from-waste con­tract which could cost the busi­ness as much as £200m to put right.

Ms White has im­ple­mented a num­ber of con­tract re­view pro­cesses which she hopes will mean the com­pany avoids sim­i­lar sit­u­a­tions in the fu­ture.

Deb­bie White was paid £525,900 in the four months be­tween her join­ing In­ter­serve and the end of last year

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