by Renee Israel
William Hill's Chief Executive Officer, Ralph Topping, will be allowed to
keep his £1.2 million retention bonus, despite strong protests by many
shareholders of the UK betting and gaming firm.
Topping was supposed to be awarded the bonus for remaining with the company
until at least December 2013, however, investors voiced their concerns for the
plans and the group faced the threat of a shareholder rebellion.
50.1% of Shareholders were in Favour of the Bonus
As a result, a vote was held on whether to award the bonus to Topping, which
in the end was passed by a minute majority, as 49.9% of the proxy votes were
against the remuneration package, and 50.1% were in favour.
This means that not only will Topping receive the hefty retention bonus, but he
will also receive a 8.3% pay rise, which means that his total annual
remuneration has jumped to £1.7 million.
"Whilst we recognise that some shareholders are not supportive of this
one-off agreement, we believe that there is widespread appreciation of the very
significant contribution of Ralph Topping to the success of William Hill," said
the chairman of the group, Gareth Davis.
Since the beginning of 2012, William Hill bookmaker has seen its shares rise
by 32%, with net revenue climbing 12% in the first quarter of the year.
Topping Reinforces Commitment to William Hill
Referring to the controversial retention bonus, the CEO of
William Hill said: "I am a man of my word and I will not renege on that deal."
Chairman Gareth Davis said that William Hill was a successful
business and the deal entered into between the group and Ralph Topping was in
order to secure the leadership of one of the most experienced gambling
executives in the industry.
"For a very reasonable additional cost, we have secured Mr.
Topping's services I hope will beyond the end of 2013," said Davis to the
shareholders who voted last week for the William Hill boss to keep his bonus.
"We have no intention of backing off," he said. "The management
of William Hill is demonstrably creating value for all shareholders."
The drama at William Hill was one of only several cases of
discontent seen among shareholders in major publically traded companies around
the world. The Chief Executive of Aviva Plc insurance group, Andrew Moss,
announced his retirement from the UK company last week, after shareholders
rejected his £2.7 million pay packet proposal.