Lastminute support for chairman Leighton

Lastminute.com chairman Allan Leighton won overwhelming backing today as shareholders brushed aside concerns over his commitment to the job.

Lastminute.com chairman Allan Leighton won overwhelming backing today as shareholders brushed aside concerns over his commitment to the job.

The online leisure company also secured comprehensive support for a bonus scheme that had been described as “excessive” by shareholder lobby group the Pension and Investment Research Consultants (PIRC).

At today’s annual general meeting, shareholders voted 99% in favour of Mr Leighton’s appointment and 95% in support of the bonus scheme.

PIRC had earlier urged clients to abstain on the re-election of Mr Leighton as his position on a number of boards, including as chairman of the Royal Mail, raised questions about the amount of time he could devote to lastminute.

The lobby group said: “Under the new Combined Code companies are expected to give greater details of the time commitment expected of their directors. In the absence of justification from the company PIRC recommends that clients abstain on Mr Leighton’s re-election.”

PIRC also lobbied against bonus packages, describing performance targets as “not sufficiently stretching”.

Executive directors and other senior managers will be able to earn a bonus equivalent to up to 100% of their salary.

Bonuses will be awarded if the company achieves growth of 20% over three years, as with the current scheme.

Last year three of lastminute.com’s five executive directors received cash bonuses of 35% after meeting performance targets, while another’s bonus more than doubled his salary.

Lastminute.com rejected claims that its pay scheme was excessive, saying that there was no point in setting targets that were not achievable.

It also said chief executive Brent Hoberman was the lowest paid executive in the FTSE 250.

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