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Last Updated: Monday, 19 April, 2004, 14:48 GMT 15:48 UK
ITV faces down shareholder anger
Michael Green
Michael Green was ousted from ITV by shareholders
Shareholders in newly-merged ITV plc said at the firm's first AGM that a 15m ($27m) pay-off to Michael Green, ex-chairman of Carlton, was "obscene".

He received the cash after shareholders barred him as chairman of the new ITV.

One shareholder said the firm, formed by a 4.5bn merger between Granada and Carlton, had done well for investors but had "failed" in Mr Green's award.

Chairman of the new ITV, Sir Peter Burt, said he and board colleagues were also not happy about the amount paid.

'Unreasonable and obscene'

But he said the company's lawyers had advised them Mr Green had a potential case for constructive dismissal, and that he was entitled to compensation for loss of office.

However, another shareholder said the award seemed to be "so enormous as to be unreasonable and obscene".

The comments came ahead of votes to re-elect the directors who authorised the payment to Mr Green.

The package was for Mr Green's last year as chairman of Carlton, the firm that merged with Granada to form ITV. Pension fund consultancy Pirc earlier said it would vote against the re-election of three board directors who backed the controversial payment.

But more than 80% of shareholders voted to keep the three - Etienne de Villiers, Sir Brian Pitman and John McGrath - on the board.

'Golden farewell'

As a new company, ITV has not published an annual report for 2003 and there will not be a resolution to approve the company accounts at the annual meeting.

ITV shares slipped slightly on Monday after its AGM statement failed to inspire the market.

Shareholders were told that net advertising revenue at ITV1 for the first quarter to March 2004 was level with the same period last year.

Earlier this year shareholder groups called for the new ITV plc to justify the 15m "golden farewell" to Mr Green.

His attempt last year to become chairman of the combined ITV plc was blocked by shareholders, prompting his departure.

At the time Pirc said the payoff showed shareholders needed more power to scrutinise boardroom pay deals.

London franchise

Mr Green received a compensation payment of 1.8m for the loss of office, in addition to 13.2m in share awards triggered by the merger.

That was despite him never having a formal contract with Carlton during his 20-year reign as chairman of the commercial broadcaster.

The payments to Mr Green, revealed in Carlton's annual report, were approved at the company's AGM in January and made on top of his salary of 843,000, annual bonus of 670,000 and benefits worth 47,000.

Mr Green built Carlton into a major player in broadcasting after the firm wrested control of the London ITV franchise from Thames Television in 1991.

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