Persimmon directors to give up millions

Jeff Fairburn the CEO of Persimmon. Picture by Simon Hulme
Jeff Fairburn the CEO of Persimmon. Picture by Simon Hulme
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Three senior Persimmon directors have agreed to forgo more than £50m after coming under fire from angry shareholders and politicians over a controversial bonus scheme.

The York-based housebuilder said chief executive Jeff Fairburn will hand back up to £25m of his potential £100m bonus and chief financial officer Mike Killoran will give back around £24m of his potential £78m payout. Group managing director Dave Jenkinson will give back around £3m of his potential £40m payout.

Persimmon is keen to appease investors ahead of an AGM in April, which could have seen irate investors vote against the board.

Future payouts for three executives will also be capped a £29 per share.

Persimmon defended the creation of the much-criticised pay plan, saying the LTIP had been a "significant factor in the company's outstanding performance".

The latest twist comes after Mr Fairburn moved to deflect stinging criticism over his bonus last week by announcing plans to hand over a "substantial amount" of the award to charity.

​He said he would set up a private charitable trust to support a number of charities selected by himself and his family.

Persimmon has faced mounting pressure from politicians and shareholders over the long-term incentive plan introduced by the company six years ago, which was set to pay out more than £200 million.

Royal London Asset Management (RLAM), which holds a 0.5​ per cent​ stake in Persimmon, said the pay awards were still "extremely generous" even after the cuts.

Ashley Hamilton Claxton, head of responsible investment at RLAM, said: "We are pleased that in the end Persimmon's board has listened to shareholder concerns on pay.

"This incident has been a classic corporate governance failure and highlights the need for remuneration committees to step up and make decisions if circumstances beyond a company's control change.

"We have consistently called for remuneration committees and boards to use their discretion when faced with pay outs that are unacceptable and are pleased that in this case the company has finally recognised the need to do this.

"However, even after this reduction, in our view the scale of the remuneration on offer under this plan is still extremely generous given the ​G​overnment's support for the sector through the Help To Buy scheme."

While the LTIP was approved by 85​ per cent​ of shareholders in 2012, the controversy engulfing the company forced chairman Nicholas Wrigley and remuneration committee chairman Jonathan Davie to resign late last year.