British Land boss sees pay rise 50%

Chief executive of FTSE 100 property developer Chris Grigg sees pay rise 50% to £3.4m

The chief executive of British Land, the FTSE 100 property developer behind the Lakeside shopping centre, has been rewarded with a 50% boost to his pay packet this year to £3.4m while his staff saw wages drop by an average of more than 5%.

Chris Grigg received £1.9m in salary, bonus and benefits, plus £280,000 in lieu of his pension allowance in the year to March 2012. Shares awarded “in order to facilitate [his] recruitment” in 2009 also vested this year with a notional gain of £1.19m. Grigg, a former investment banker, cashed in more than half of those shares, pocketing £622,000. In 2011, he received £2m in salary, bonus and benefits, plus another £280,000 in lieu of a pension payment.

By contrast, employees were paid an average salary of £127,000 this year, compared with £134,000 last year. Headcount increased slightly from 179 employees in head office to 205 this year. The details were published in British Land’s annual report.

British Land’s portfolio of office and retail property – from Broadgate Circus in the City to Meadowhall Shopping Centre in Sheffield – rose in value by 2.6% to £10.3bn in the year to March. The company, which is developing the “Cheesegrater” skyscraper in the City, said London’s booming office rental market helped drive a 5% increase in pre-tax profits in the year to March.

Lord Turnbull, chairman of British Land’s remuneration committee, defended the pay scheme. “Pay plays an important retention role and hence needs to be competitive with alternative employment opportunities,” he wrote in the annual report. “This is particularly so as British Land’s expectations of staff are high and there is a scarcity value on proven performers.”

Grigg left Barclays’ commercial banking arm to take over at British Land from Stephen Hester, who went in the other direction to rescue Royal Bank of Scotland in 2008. As chief executive of a bank that is 82%-owned by the taxpayer, Hester now suffers even more scrutiny of his pay packet and was forced to waive a near £1m bonus this year after a political row. However, his bank balance was not unduly affected as he still walked away with some £3.2m in salary, benefits, payments in lieu of pension and share awards that vested last year.

Details of Grigg’s pay packet were published in a week where shareholders voted against a 60% increase in the pay of WPP chairman Martin Sorrell, and follows a series of investor revolts over executive pay.

The row over executive pay has been reignited following a survey by Manifest/MM&K which showed FTSE 100 chief executive pay rose 12% in a year when the share index fell by 5%. The annual meeting season for the 2011 financial year currently underway has been dubbed the “shareholder spring” as a record six remuneration reports have been voted down. Premier Farnell suffered a 30% protest against its pay policies this week and further rebellions are expected as the AGM season continues.


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