* Nearly half of FTSE 100 firms say hold for more than 3 yrs
* Follows Fidelity vow to vote down those with shorter plans
* Has opposed pay plans at 52 pct of firms so far in 2014
(Adds detail, quote, background)
By Simon Jessop
LONDON, July 3 British companies are responding
to pressure from investors and government to make bosses wait
longer for stock bonuses, and more shareholders should now add
their weight to the campaign, a top fund manager at Fidelity
Fidelity, among the largest shareholders in Europe's top
companies, said last year it would oppose any long-term
incentive plan (LTIP) that allowed bosses to cash in stock
options within three years, and added that from 2015 it would
vote against any plans lasting less than five years.
The global fund manager's decision came after a public
outcry against high levels of executive pay at blue-chip
companies during times of austerity prompted the British
government to insist that bonus plans must be signed off by
shareholders in order to hold companies to account, encourage
longer-term decision making and improve returns.
Now nearly half of FTSE 100 firms insist executives
hold on to share options for a minimum of between three and five
years, Dominic Rossi, Fidelity's chief investment officer for
equities, said on a conference call with journalists.
That compares to 17 percent of firms at the start of 2013.
Among the companies to be "fully five-year compliant" are
Anglo American, AstraZeneca and BT,
Fidelity said in a statement.
"The standard three-year LTIP model, which has dominated
remuneration schemes in the past, has been broken and is now in
retreat," said Rossi, adding there was more to do over the next
"We want to make sure that the majority of organisations
have moved and that we get an increasing number above our
minimum of five years," said Rossi on the call, held to give an
update on the progress of Fidelity's campaign.
He noted that the changes "haven't come without some pain."
Fidelity, which manages around 160 billion pounds in assets
($272.3 billion), voted against at least one proposal at 52
percent of AGMs so far in 2014, the first time it had voted
against a majority of boards.
"This progress should only encourage all shareholders to use
their new powers to the fullest extent," he added.
($1 = 0.5877 British Pounds)
(Editing by Sophie Walker)