May 19, 2020

UK to Sell its Share in Eurostar

UK
Finance
transport industry
France
Annifer Jackson
2 min
UK to Sell its Share in Eurostar

The UK government will attempt to sell off its 40 percent share in high-speed rail link Eurostar as part of its plan to reduce national debt.

Chancellor of the Exchequer George Osborne said in a statement: “"I am determined that we go on making the decisions to reform the British economy and tackle our debts. So we will proceed with the potential sale of the UK's shareholding in Eurostar today."

The sale of the link connecting London with Paris and Brussels will help the UK meet its target of £20 billion in asset sales by 2020, with the Treasury saying that it expects to form concrete agreements for the deal in early 2015.

Eurostar is also owned by French rail company SNCF (55 percent) and Belgium’s SNCB (five percent).

So far the rail service has taken more than 145 million passengers in its 20 years of operation, with 10 million of those using the link in 2013.

The move to sell the UK stake comes amid heightening criticism from unions about a lack of ownership of national assets, and follows the controversial sale of postal service Royal Mail.

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This sale could also be seen as another ill-judged decision in terms of UK transport, as domestic rail companies have been receiving torrents of complaints ever since privatisation in the 1990s.

Last year Deutsche Bahn received approval to run trains through the Channel Tunnel as part of its plans to connect London with Frankfurt and Cologne in 2016. 

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May 10, 2021

More than half of FTSE 100 execs suffer pay cuts, freezes

PwC
FTSE100
remuneration
bonuses
Kate Birch
3 min
The pandemic has brought about pay cuts and freezes with over half of FTSE 100 CEOs having their salaries frozen this year, according to new PwC analysis
The pandemic has brought about pay cuts and freezes with over half of FTSE 100 CEOs having their salaries frozen this year, according to new PwC analysi...

Pay increases for many executives at the largest UK firms have been put on hold since the start of the pandemic with more than half of the FTSE 100 CEOs having had their salaries frozen in 2021, according to new research from PwC.

The research, based on PwC’s analysis of the first 50 FTSE 100 firms to publish their 2021 annual remuneration reports, reveals that 53% of CEOs and 52% of CFOs have had their pay reviews put on hold, compared to 35% and 30%, respectively, last year, pointing to the pandemic as the main reason. 

According to Phillippa O’Connor, reward and employment leader at PwC, the current environment and impact of the pandemic has clearly led shareholders to sharpen their pencils when reviewing executive pay levels this year.

“It is clear from the pay outcomes we have seen to date in the FTSE 100 that companies have exercised restraint when it comes to both determining outcomes for the 2020 performance year and settling pay on a forward-looking basis for 2021,” says O’Conoor. 

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Bonuses, grants and pensions also affected

But that’s not all. Around a third (31%) of companies either waived, cancelled or reduced their 2020 annual bonuses, with the average payout dropping from just uhnder £1.1m to £843,000. 

When it comes 2021 long-term incentive plan (LTIP) grants, these have also been revised in light of the economic impact of the pandemic with 45% of firms making some adjustment to their award, including retaining discretion to adjust outcomes at vesting in respect of windfall gains, reducing grant size, delaying the grant, and even canceling the award altogether. 

The study shows that pension levels for incumbent CEOs remain at 15% of their salary, falling to 10% for new hires, bringing them in line with the wider workforce. Eight out of 10 FTSE 100 companies will have aligned incumbent pension levels with those for the wider workforce by the end of 2022. 

O’Connor warns that moving forward into AGM season, there is likely to be added scrutiny around any pay rises that are greater than those for the wider workforce and on incentive outcomes that are “either not aligned with business performance or do not take into account the company’s approach towards matters such as diviends and government support”. 

What announcements did UK's big firms make?

Back in April 2020, as the pandemic was just getting started, a number of UK companies, mainly insurance and banking stepped forward to review remuneration packages in response to the economic implications of the COVID-19 crisis.  

British insurance giant Aviva announced that basic pay increases for its executive directors and the Aviva leadership team would be paused, while the executive directors of Prudential offered that their salaries be reduced and RSA confirmed its exec directors and executive committee would not be receiving cash bonuses for the current year. 

The same was true in banking and finance with TSB announcing that its 10-strong executive committee would give up their bonuses in 2020, while Barclays said its chief executive, finance director and chairman would each give a third of their fixed pay for the next six months to charities. Lloyds cancelled its bonus payments and pay reviews in 2020

Other big UK firms including Ryanair, Taylor Wimpey and Rentokil all committed to reducing their executives pay packages. 

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