Shareholders back ICG board and pay levels

Shareholders in Irish Ferries-owner Irish Continental Group (ICG) have unanimously backed under-fire chairman John B. McGuckian and supported the group's executive pay policy.

Earlier this week, shareholder advisory firm Glass Lewis called for a qualified and independent non-executive director to be appointed ICG chairperson. However, it stopped short of calling for shareholders to vote against Mr McGuckian's re-election at the group's AGM.

While the Irish Stock Exchange views nine years as being the unofficial limit for the tenure of chairpersons of public companies, Mr McGuckian has chaired ICG for 15 years.

At ICG's AGM, an overwhelming 99.6% of shareholders voted in favour of Mr McGuckian remaining in place. ICG said it sees its chairman as being independent.

Nearly 78% of shareholders also voted in favour of its remuneration policy, concerns over which - specifically the absence of caps on executive bonuses - were also raised by Glass Lewis and peer company ISS ahead of the meeting.

In a trading update coinciding with its AGM, ICG said group revenue for the first four months of the year was, at €102.3m, 6.1% higher than the same period last year.

However, there was some negative Brexit effect with UK passenger bookings showing a decline in the run-up to Britain's original exit date of March 29.

"The recent agreement between the Irish and British governments to continue and formalise the Common Travel Area whatever the outcome of the UK withdrawal negotiations is a positive development," the group said.

Speaking after the AGM, ICG boss Eamonn Rothwell said management wasn't concerned as the outcome of Brexit is still not known and noted that 40% of ferry passengers on the Irish Sea originate in Ireland. Trading was helped by the eventual start of sailings by the new WB Yeats vessel, whose late delivery led to cancelled sailings last summer and significant earnings declines for the group.

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