BP shareholders have mounted an angry protest against a 20 per cent pay rise for chief executive Bob Dudley at a time when the oil group made its worst ever loss.
For the first time in living memory, investors voted against the company's pay decisions at the firm's annual general meeting in London, with 59 per cent of votes rejecting the move to pay Dudley nearly £14m for 2015, when the company ran up a £3.6bn loss. It came as other major energy company bosses have taken a pay cut amid the oil price crash.
Adam Matthews, from the Church of England Pensions Board, asked the meeting whether it was "morally right" to boost Dudley's pay with bonuses. "How much does one person need to be paid in incentives?" he asked.
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Another shareholder said: "While much of the population must accept austerity it is not right to increase directors' remuneration."
The results of the vote are non-binding, but left BP "scrambling to win back support of some of the City's biggest institutions", says the Financial Times.
"The rebellion highlighted a growing trend of institutional investors and advisers around the world taking a more aggressive stance over pay," it adds.
BP claims Dudley has met or exceeded all of his targets relating to operational and safety measures, but has nevertheless promised to review the way in which pay is awarded before next year.
"We hear you," chairman Carl-Henric Svanberg told investors. "We will sit down with our largest shareholders to make sure we understand their concerns and return to seek your support for a renewed policy."
Reviewing Friday's newspapers for the BBC, broadcaster David Davies said the story has a "bigger significance", adding that people were saying it is "damaging to companies" to be paying one person £14m when there are "horrendous pockets of inequality in our country".
He continued: "For the first time, in the past few months, the failure of successive governments to do anything about the inequalities – the gap between rich and poor – in our lifetimes is coming home to roost."
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