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UPDATE 1-Experian board plan fails to win backing of 30 pct of shareholders
July 16, 2014 / 11:51 AM / 3 years ago

UPDATE 1-Experian board plan fails to win backing of 30 pct of shareholders

* 11 percent of shareholders oppose Don Robert re-election

* 30 percent either voted against or abstained (Adds Experian statement, background)

LONDON, July 16 (Reuters) - Holders of nearly a third of the shares in British credit checking company Experian Plc have failed to back the appointment as chairman of the company’s chief executive, a move that flies in the face of company governance guidelines.

About 70 percent of shareholders voted in favour of Don Robert’s re-election as a director, in effect confirming his elevation to the chairmanship of the company, with the remainder either abstaining or voting against, figures from the company showed after Tuesday’s annual shareholders’ meeting.

Experian, the world’s biggest credit-rating company, had said in January that Roberts would replace John Peace as chairman, a move that contravenes Britain’s Corporate Governance Code, which says chief executives should not move to become chairman of the same company.

The Investment Management Association, an investment industry body, and the Institute of Directors, a lobby group for industry as a whole, had raised concerns about the plan.

Experian had justified the move on the basis that it didn’t want to risk losing Peace, who founded the business 40 years ago, and Roberts, who has served as chief executive since it was demerged from GUS Plc and listed on the London Stock Exchange in 2006, in quick succession.

“Don brings considerable value to Experian and has unrivalled, deep knowledge of the business. The board places enormous value on Don remaining with the business, particularly given the retirement of John Peace,” it said.

The executive reshuffle also involves Finance Director Brian Cassin becoming chief executive, with the changes taking effect after the annual meeting.

Also at the meeting, holders of 14 percent of the shares voted against pay packages granted to directors. Robert has earned around 45 million pounds in the past five years through his annual pay deals and long-term incentive plans, according to Experian’s annual report.

Outgoing Chairman Peace has been caught up in three separate shareholder controversies this summer.

Shareholders at luxury goods firm Burberry, which he chairs, revolted over a multi-million pound package handed to its Chief Executive Christopher Bailey, while more than 40 percent of shareholders at Standard Chartered, where Peace is also chairman, voted against the bank’s new pay structure. (Reporting by Matt Scuffham; Editing by Steve Slater and David Holmes)

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