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EDITIONS
Wednesday, 31 July, 2002, 14:04 GMT 15:04 UK
Vodafone chief clinches new pay deal
Vodafone shop and mobile phone
Vodafone shareholders meet today
Shareholders in mobile phone giant Vodafone have voted in favour of a lucrative new pay deal for its chief executive Sir Christopher Gent a by a wide majority.

Eighty-four percent of proxy votes counted up at the company's annual general meeting, held in London on Wednesday, were in favour of the deal.

Just 9.5% were against the package, and the remainder abstained.

Full results, which will include the outcome of a ballot of the 400 shareholders who attended the meeting in person, are due out later.

Resentful investors

The new package entitles Sir Christopher to a basic salary of 1.2m, with a further 3.9m in performance and bonus shares.

The pay deal has become the focus of investor resentment over 'fat cat' chief executive salaries, exacerbated in recent months by a steep stockmarket slump.

Critics have pointed out that Sir Christopher's total remuneration package last year amounted to 12.3m, while Vodafone crashed to a 16bn loss and saw its market value reduced by a third.

The Trades Union Congress, which has spoken out against excessive corporate salaries, said a 'significant' number of shareholders had voted against the Vodafone pay deal.

"A number of institutional managers have been won over but almost one in 10 have still voted against, which is a big result," said TUC institutional investment officer Tom Powdrill.

But Sir Christopher's supporters say his salary is justified by the firm's buoyant underlying performance, and its position as a global leader of the telecommunications industry.

Earlier this week, the company unveiled a further jump in its subscriber numbers, taking its total subscriber base to nearly 104 million.

Speaking at the meeting, Sir Christopher described himself as a 'long-term holder' of Vodafone shares, and said he had not sold any of his stock.

Accounts scrutiny

Vodafone's annual general meeting comes one day after the firm admitted using accounting techniques which boosted its sales figures relative to some competitors.

The company said it counted all the revenues from some wireless internet sales as turnover, even though part of the money was paid to partners under content-sharing agreements.

The accounting methods, which are not used by most other mobile phone operators, are in line with UK regulations.

Vodafone shares closed down one penny at 97p.

 WATCH/LISTEN
 ON THIS STORY
Neil McCartney, director, McCartney Media
"One could look at it another way in that all operators have been affected badly since the collapse of the bull market."
The BBC's Brian Milligan
"All Vodafone may be doing is setting the blue print"
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