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Executive pay is up by 32% since 2009, study finds

The heads of the UK's biggest firms saw their pay soar by nearly a third during 2010 - but the value of their companies rose by only 9%, according to a study.

The chief executives of FTSE 100 groups received remuneration packages averaging £3.5m last year, 32% more than they were paid in 2009, according to findings from consultancy firm MM&K and electronic voting agency Manifest.

But the FTSE 100 increase increased in value by just 9% during the same period, suggesting a weakening in the link between chief executives' pay and their performance.

The groups said remuneration committees appeared to be struggling to maintain their independence from chief executives and were adopting increasingly expensive, short-term reward strategies.

It added that the heads of FTSE 100 firms had seen their pay packets quadruple during the past 12 years, despite the fact that share prices have not risen during the same period.

The report warned that many companies were shifting away from long-term incentives to annual bonuses, mirroring the approach that caused problems in the banking sector.

It added that most remuneration strategies now involved the use of long-term incentive plans (LTIPS), which measured performance over just three years, compared with a seven-to-10-year horizon a decade ago.

Around 74% of FTSE 100 companies now have deferred bonus plans, as do 52% of firms in the FTSE 250, but the report found that most of these schemes had been introduced at the same time that bonus levels were increased, meaning that in many cases, executives' earnings had been "considerably enhanced" over the long term.

Belfast Telegraph