Belfast Telegraph

Centrica boss faces investor anger over £3m pay deal

The boss of British Gas owner Centrica has faced investor protests over his £3 million pay package during the company's annual general meeting (AGM).

Chief executive Iain Conn saw 14.5% of shareholders fail to back his pay deal for 2015, while 85.5% waved it through.

But he avoided a shareholder revolt on the scale seen by BP chief Bob Dudley, when almost 60% of shareholders voted to reject the oil giant's remuneration report for the last year, which included a pay deal of 19.6 million dollars (£13.8 million) for Mr Dudley.

At last year's AGM, Mr Conn saw just 67% of investors back his £3.7 million pay package.

It comes as Centrica announced that it had lost almost 250,000 customers in the first three months of the year as competition in the energy market continues to bite.

The country's largest gas and electricity supplier said in a first-quarter trading update that it lost 224,000 residential customers, or 1.5% of home supply accounts in the period. It said its overall residential accounts fell to 14.4 million customers.

The group put the loss down to a significant number of customers coming off long-term fixed-price contracts, and consumers switching suppliers as smaller rivals put the Big Six players under price pressure.

Centrica added that in the period it axed 800 jobs, less than a third of the 3,000 roles it intends to cut this year as part of its plans to save £750 million over five years.

The group announced last July that it would cut 6,000 posts over the five-year period - around 10% of its workforce - although 2,000 jobs will be created, so the net loss will be 4,000.

The group said it expects to save £200 million this year, as part of its £750 million five-year cost reduction programme.

Shareholder anger over Mr Conn's pay comes after WPP advertising chief Sir Martin Sorrell defended his £63 million pay deal ahead of the firm's annual meeting later this summer.

However, BP is unlikely to be the only firm to suffer a rebellion over pay this year, with the boards of some of Britain's biggest companies such as HSBC, AstraZeneca and Reckitt Benckiser all braced for a backlash over executive pay as they prepare to hold their AGMs in the coming weeks.