Hills shareholders express disquiet over Topping pay

William Hill chief, Ralph ToppingShareholders at William Hill are considering rejecting the retention bonus awarded to the firm’s chief executive. The firm gathered for their annual general meeting (AGM) later today and many are of the belief Hills will mirror a number of other stock market firms in rejecting bonuses. Ralph Topping was gifted the £1.2 million “retention bonus” in order to keep him at the firm until December 2013. It was in addition to an 8.3 percent pay rise and echoes a bonus of the same ilk this time last year.

Skepticism over whether he’ll get the moolah comes from the Association of British Insurers (ABI), whose members make up 15 percent of the market, and the Pensions and Investment Research Consultants (Pirc). The former has issued an “amber top” warning ahead of a possible vote by shareholders whereas Pirc has advised its members to abstain from the voting, according to the Guardian.

Company chairman Gareth Davis has already called for calm ahead of the AGM and that this isn’t a “reward for failure” due to the success that Topping has had.

“Ralph has done a remarkable job,” Davis said. “He was appointed four years ago in very different circumstances and he has turned round the company’s performance.”

Topping’s pay-rise caused consternation amongst shareholders at last year’s AGM when 34.5 percent decided to vote against the rise. Back then the company gave the same excuse of the company making significant progress over the past year. Shareholders don’t doubt that the company has made progress with strong growth online pushing revenue up 6 percent to £1.1 billion. It just looks as though the disquiet last year will increase off the back of what has become know as the “shareholder spring”.