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Barclays to freeze chief's pay to head off shareholder rebellion

Barclays plans to freeze its chief executive's salary and bonuses in an attempt to head off the kind of shareholder rebellion over pay that is threatening a raft of top-flight firms.

The banking giant's remuneration committee is reported to have met with leading investors last week to propose freezing Jes Staley's pay for the next three years.

Such a move would see Mr Staley's £1.2 million base salary, bonuses and benefits remain the same between 2017 and 2019.

Crawford Gillies, a Barclays board member and chair of the remuneration committee, is understood to have outlined an average figure of £8.2 million as the maximum amount the bank boss could receive over the next three years, according to reports.

It comes as The Investor Association, whose members own a third of the FTSE 100, is expected to submit proposals to ministers this week that would make a company automatically face a binding vote on its pay policy during its next annual general meeting if more than a quarter of shareholders voted against the directors' remuneration report.

The proposals are currently undergoing final approval from major institutions before being submitted to Prime Minister Theresa May's review of corporate governance on Friday.

Travel giant Thomas Cook had to stomach an investor backlash on Thursday after nearly a third of shareholders voted against a long-term management bonus scheme.

Investors voted 32.7% against the 2017 strategic share incentive plan (SSIP), which could have paid chief executive Peter Fankhauser up to 225% of his annual salary - a potential £1.6 million.

Durex owner Reckitt Benckiser faces brewing shareholder concern over the firm's 16.6 billion US dollars (£13.2 billion) deal for baby milk maker Mead Johnson, which could help its chief executive Rakesh Kapoor pocket a £15 million bonus.

Colin McLean, managing director of SVM Asset Management, warned last week investor anger over hefty financial rewards will come to a head this year as nearly half of FTSE 100 firms face binding votes on pay.

Pay for the FTSE 100 chief executives has risen from an average of £1 million in 1998 to £4.3 million in 2015, far outstripping the growth in average earnings.

Last year saw a string of shareholder revolts at AGMs as investors took umbrage with remuneration awards doled out to top bosses - with firms such as Anglo American and BP facing protest votes.

In January, Imperial Brands, the company behind Davidoff and Lambert and Butler cigarettes, moved to stub out a potential shareholder rebellion by withdrawing plans for a bumper pay rise for chief executive Alison Cooper.

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