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FINANCIAL TIMES: BP plays and wears it back to front: "Even Shell, which has been in a little bit of trouble lately, does this the right way round. It's appalling that you've got the order of business wrong." (ShellNews.net) 15 April 05

 

By Clay Harris

Published: April 15 2005

 

BP secured safe passage for its generous executive incentive scheme at yesterday's annual meeting at the Royal Festival Hall.

 

Overwhelming approval came despite Pirc, the shareholder activist, saying that a potential bonus for Lord Browne worth more than seven times his salary could be excessive.

 

One shareholder asked BP's chief executive how he could face fellow peers in the House of Lords, knowing his salary was two and a half times greater than the dozen law lords combined. But his "obscene" pay package was nothing compared with a "disgraceful" $38m (20m) paid to Lee Raymond of ExxonMobil. "I'm old enough to remember the war," said the shareholder, "and the phrase overpaid, oversexed and over here comes to mind".

 

Non-executive director Antony Burgmans, chairman-in-waiting at Unilever, was berated for poor attendance at company meetings. Burgmans was paid 53,000 by BP last year but attended just three out of seven board meetings.

 

Chairman Peter Sutherland said BP had been "anxious" to appoint the sought-after Burgmans, who made clear his timetable at Unilever was fixed last year. The busy Burgmans also sits on ABN Amro's board.

 

Shareholders were unhappy that voting on items such as the re-election of directors took place before they could grill them on the annual report. Private shareholder Martin Simons said: "Even Shell, which has been in a little bit of trouble lately, does this the right way round. It's appalling that you've got the order of business wrong."

 

Private shareholders in attendance, most of whom could best be described as advanced in years, were given goodie bags, including a natty BP baseball cap. BP really knows its audience.

 

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