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William Hill shareholders rebel over executive pay

Over 30% of voting investors cast ballots against the firm’s remuneration report.

William Hill

William Hill shareholders have vented their anger over executive salaries, with a significant number rejecting a pay rise for the bookmaker’s chief executive.

Over 30% of voting investors cast ballots against the firm’s remuneration report at its annual meeting on Tuesday.

Consternation centres on a 9.1% increase in base salary for boss Philip Bowcock, which will see him take home a total of £1.3 million.

It comes after Institutional Shareholder Services advised investors to vote against the remuneration report.

The result will see William Hill placed on a public register of firms in which over 20% of shareholders have revolted over a resolution.

William Hill said in a statement following the AGM: “The board understands that this opposition is attributable in large part to concerns regarding the salary increase awarded to Philip Bowcock, CEO, on his acceptance of that position permanently in March 2017.

“The board has considered those concerns carefully, and remains of the view that the processes followed and the decision taken in 2017 was appropriate and can be justified in the context of the key events and industry challenges of last year, many of which are ongoing.”

The bookmaker added that it remains committed to maintaining an “open dialogue” with shareholders.

Separately, William Hill announced first quarter figures in which it pointed to an “unprecedented” run of bookie-friendly results boosting its performance, as the firm also ditched its underperforming Australian business.

The group’s net revenue grew 3%, boosted by a 12% rise in online sales. Sportsbook and gaming revenues were up by 17% and 8% respectively in this part of the business.

However, retail sales dropped as weakness on the UK high street continued to drag on the business. Retail sales fell 4% in the quarter, with sportsbook revenue down by 9% and gaming sales flat.