Home Money Aston Martin gets into a storm over fat cat benefits

Aston Martin gets into a storm over fat cat benefits

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Making her mark: Bond girl Ana De Armas next to 007's Aston Martin car at the premiere of No Time To Die
  • Details emerge about Amedeo Felisa’s unusual arrangements to get to work
  • Dispute comes after revolt at AstraZeneca over £19m pay deal for Pascal Soriot
  • Smith & Nephew and LSE also braced for shareholders to revolt over sky-high salaries

The ousted Aston Martin boss was paid £1.3million to travel weekly from Italy to the Midlands on a private jet, fueling row over boardroom excesses.

More details emerged this week about Amedeo Felisa’s unusual arrangements to get to the luxury car maker’s base in Gaydon, Warwickshire.

It comes just days after a major revolt at AstraZeneca, where more than a third of shareholders opposed a £19m pay deal for chief executive Pascal Soriot.

In the coming weeks, two other FTSE 100 companies – Smith & Nephew and the London Stock Exchange Group – are also preparing to have their shareholders revolt over sky-high pay packages.

Bosses increasingly claim that executive salaries at top UK companies are low by international standards and are damaging London’s position as a major financial centre.

Making her mark: Bond girl Ana De Armas next to 007’s Aston Martin car at the premiere of No Time To Die

Prominent City figures such as London Stock Exchange (LSE) boss Julia Hoggett have called for a “constructive discussion” on board pay.

He said Britain needs to attract and retain the best talent to compete with its American and European rivals. Rupert Soames, the new chairman of business lobby group CBI, is also chairman of medical device maker Smith & Nephew.

In that capacity, he’s busy lobbying shareholders to give CEO Deepak Nath a huge pay rise at next month’s annual meeting. He has called many FTSE 100 companies ‘Brilos’ (‘British only listed’) because the majority of their income comes from abroad.

The London Stock Exchange Group, which owns the exchange, faces a showdown with its investors next week when shareholders will vote on plans to increase chief executive David Schwimmer’s pay to £13.2 million, from £6. 3 millions.

Several companies, including chipmaker Arm Holdings, plumbing giant Ferguson and Tarmac owner CRH, have moved their primary listings to New York, in part because high levels of executive pay are more tolerated on the other side. of the Atlantic.

Gambling giant Flutter, among others, plans to move to Wall Street. Campaigners say there is little evidence that Britain-based bosses are underpaid compared to their peers.

Anthony Painter, policy director at the Chartered Management Institute, said “simply relying on a benchmarking exercise” with other bosses “appears to relentlessly increase executive pay.”

Aston Martin, whose shares have plummeted since the company went public in 2018, is unusual because much of the CEO’s salary is made up of benefits, rather than performance-based bonuses. Felisa received £2.9m last year, including a £1.3m travel allowance, as first reported by The Sun.

The company even paid the profit tax, which was granted two years ago when Felisa joined the company, bringing with her a team of colleagues from the Italian sports car manufacturer Ferrari.

They traveled weekly by private jet from their homes in Italy to the company’s headquarters in the United Kingdom, latest accounts show.

The benefit, which was only agreed “after careful consideration” by the board, had “the full support” of Aston Martin chairman Lawrence Stroll.

Felisa, 77, also received an annual “location allowance” of £50,000 to cover living and accommodation costs “while she was away from her home in Italy during the working week”. He was replaced last month by former Bentley boss Adrian Hallmark. It was the third leadership change at the automaker favored by 007 James Bond since Stroll took control four years ago.

“Aston Martin is an example of a company that shouldn’t go public in the first place,” said Tim Bush of shareholder advisory group PIRC. “It’s been a disaster from start to finish.”

Stroll is no stranger to using private jets. Planes it owns have logged a total of 1,512 flights since the beginning of 2022, a recent investigation by The Guardian found. An Aston Martin spokesperson said Felisa’s private flights were paid for because of “the efficiency benefits of valuable time saved, productive time working individually and as a team, as well as privacy, flexibility and convenience.”

The Mail on Sunday Fat Cat Files, an annual audit of salaries and benefits received by FTSE 100 bosses, found that Britain’s top 100 board bosses earned an average of £4.2 million last year while households They were struggling to make ends meet.

The top five earners pocketed £56m between them, led by AstraZeneca’s Soriot, who pocketed £15.3m.

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