* Companies should publish pay ratios annually, lawmaker say
* Workers should also have a seat on a firms' pay committee
* Follows spate of scandals, investor rebellions over pay
(Adds detail from report, responses from trade body, regulator,
investor, lawyer, background, bullet points)
By Andy Bruce and Simon Jessop
LONDON, April 5 British businesses must overhaul
their executive pay and perks to rebuild public trust following
a spate of corporate scandals, lawmakers said on Wednesday.
A report by parliament's Business, Energy and Industrial
Strategy (BEIS) Committee said companies should publish pay
ratios annually, give workers a seat on the committee that sets
pay and have women make up half of all new senior and executive
level appointments from 2020.
Executive pay is a hot political topic in Britain after
Prime Minister Theresa May campaigned to help those who voted
for Brexit in protest at "out of touch" elites.
Corporate scandals such as the collapse of store chain BHS,
which was sold to a serial bankrupt with no retail experience,
have fuelled mistrust of well-paid company bosses during a
period of mediocre wage growth for most Britons.
"Successful, productive and profitable companies cannot be
disconnected from society," Iain Wright, chairman of the BEIS
committee, said, adding that it was now "impossible to see a
credible link between remuneration and performance".
The committee, whose recommendations are not binding but are
likely to be looked at closely by May's government, singled out
long-term incentive plans as lacking in transparency. These aim
to align the interests of company executives and shareholders by
linking pay to the performance of the firm over years,
Many of the plans have been criticised for being too
complex, too generous and sometimes gamed by bosses and
shareholder revolts over pay have become commonplace.
"Pay must be reformed and simplified to incentivise
decision-making for the long term success of the business and to
pursue wider company objectives than share value," Wright said.
The Confederation of British Industry (CBI) agreed long-term
incentive plans could be too complex, but said banning them
would limit flexibility for companies to reward executives.
And the Financial Reporting Council, which is tasked with
policing corporate behaviour, said it was now hoping for greater
powers to hold directors to account.
"The depth and breadth of the recommendations, if fully
adopted, will have significant implications for the FRC's remit,
resources and funding," it said in a statement.
But Jonathan Chamberlain, partner at law firm Gowling WLG,
said any changes to executive pay or worker representation would
be "practically difficult as well as ideologically divisive".
Chamberlain said a "light-touch" reporting obligation on
issues such as pay and conditions could help prevent instances
of abuse such as at Sports Direct, which drew the ire of
The Investment Association, Britain's main trade body for
the asset management firms which have voiced concern over pay
and other governance-related resolution at companies' annual
general meetings, backed the report.
Sky News reported on Monday that BP had agreed to cut
about 5 million pounds ($6.2 million) from Chief Executive Bob
Dudley's maximum pay for the next three years in a bid to ease
And last week Reckitt Benckiser said Rakesh Kapoor,
one of Britain's highest-earning CEOs, saw his 2016 pay package
fall by more than a third following a safety scandal in South
Korea that dented its performance.
"The report sets out further welcome measures to strengthen
investors' hands and provide better reporting to shareholders on
how the Board has taken the views of their stakeholders into
account," Andrew Ninian, the Investment Association's Director
of Stewardship and corporate governance, said.
Standard Life Investments, which runs funds totalling 280
billion pounds and is one of the biggest investors in British
companies, across a range of strategies, said it backed moves to
get more clarity over boards' decision-making.
(Editing by Hugh Lawson and Alexander Smith)