Activist investment trust leads pay revolt at Johnston Press

Spotlight on charges 700x450.jpg

Activist investment trust Crystal Amber has led a pay revolt at Johnston Press arguing that the company’s track record did not warrant pay increases for directors.

The publisher for the i newspaper and The Scotsman has suffered an almost 60 per cent plunge in share price over the last year, The Times reports.

Thirty two per cent voted against the company’s remuneration policy with the bulk of opposition votes coming from Crystal Amber, which has a 21.6 per cent stake.

The Aim-listed investment trust invests in small and mid-cap UK companies.

Fund manager Richard Bernstein says: “We think that given the track record, the focus should be entirely on a speedy resolution of the balance sheet rather than thinking about bonuses.

“We think an ‘all hands on deck’ approach rather than potential large bonuses should be the focus. We want progress on the restructure — not on directors’ bonuses.”

Anticipating a shareholder backlash, Johnston Press backed down on plans to increase annual bonuses to 180 per cent of annual salary, instead reducing it to 120 per cent.

The change appeared to have some effect with Institutional Shareholder Services reversing its recommendation to vote against the pay policy before the meeting.