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Shareholders fight back at Punch Tavern meeting

In a sign of the times, shareholders at yesterday's meeting of Punch Tavern investors voted down the latest remuneration package for the company's directors. While there was a similar revolt last year, with 36% of investors voting against the remuneration package, this year saw a significant 55% vote against the package and hence the company has withdrawn the offer. So what is going on?

A number of shareholders were dismayed at the fact the company was putting together what appeared to be an "excessive" remuneration package at a time when the company has just announced losses of £406 million, after write-downs. In a sign that shareholders in the UK are now willing to fight back against excesses in the boardroom, the company has agreed to revisit and repackage the remuneration issue and re-present it to shareholders in the future.

While shareholders do have the opportunity each year to vote on various remuneration packages and other company issues, it is highly unusual for institutional investors not to back the board. However, it would appear, at least in the eyes of many shareholders, that the company has overstepped the mark in the short term and bearing in mind the recent large losses perhaps now is not the time to be looking towards performance related pay, which could have seen some directors receive bonuses of 200% of their salary.

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