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Friday 27th April 2012 | 11:05
Chuka Umunna MP, Labour’s Shadow Business Secretary, commenting on the Barclays AGM today, said on the need for more shareholder activism:
"We agree with the likes of the Association of British Insurers who have said there must be a change in culture and reform to end excessive pay and rebuild trust. Shareholders must be in the driving seat of reform on executive pay because it is they who own our companies, so it is incredibly encouraging to see Barclays shareholders taking a stand like this and being more activist.
He added on the Barclays Board’s remuneration report:
"To most outsiders it looks very odd to see Barclays award £2.15bn in bonuses whilst paying out just £730m in dividends to shareholders for 2011, so it is not surprising that there is likely to be a revolt. However, whilst fund managers like CCLA have disclosed that they will vote against the remuneration report today, others are not required to do so under the law as it stands. That is why we have argued - in the face of opposition by George Osborne and Vince Cable - that institutional investors and fund managers should be required to disclose how they exercise voting rights on all issues: this will increase accountability and mean that pensioners and ordinary investors would more easily be able to see how those acting on their behalf vote on the Barclays Board’s remuneration report today.
On the public interest in Barclays’ affairs, Chuka Umunna said:
"We all have an interest in seeing greater responsibility exercised in the City. It is after all the British people who continue to provide an implicit taxpayer subsidy to the sector from which Barclays benefits. If banks like Barclays fail to sufficiently justify paying out large bonuses, it will further erode rather than rebuild the trust and confidence in our banking system which we want to see return."