Centrica shareholders protest over pay

Iain Conn, chief executive of Centrica

Iain Conn, chief executive of Centrica

Centrica suffered a significant protest from shareholders over its decision to pay £3m to Iain Conn for 2015, his first year as chief executive of the group.

The British Gas owner said 15 per cent of votes cast by 72 per cent of large shareholders ahead of the annual meeting went against the pay deal.


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The rebellion is smaller than last year, when more than a third of shareholders voted against Centrica’s decision to grant Mr Conn share options worth up to £2.7m on joining the company.

It means Centrica will avoid a defeat over pay, as suffered by BP last week over its decision to grant Bob Dudley, its chief executive, a 20 per cent pay rise for 2015.

There are still signs of some unhappiness at Mr Conn’s pay, however, given that the company made £857m of operating losses for 2015. John Farmer, one shareholder, told the meeting: “Over the past seven years shareholder returns have been a paltry 20 per cent . . . [but] the chief executive is receiving some £3m.”

British Gas revealed on Monday that it had suffered a dip in customer numbers in the first quarter of the year, losing 1.5 per cent of home supply accounts even as the number of customer complaints fell.

Centrica said a higher number of customers than normal switched away during the first three months of 2016. Across the market, 500,000 energy customers switched supplier in March.

But the company added that it remained on track to make more than £2bn in adjusted cash flow this year. As part of its efforts to do so, it cut 800 jobs in the first quarter, part of the 3,000 job losses it had already announced for the year.

Centrica, like other companies with significant electricity generation, has suffered as the price of oil has crashed, bringing down wholesale power prices with it.

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