The exhibitions group run by a former boss of the media regulator and aide to Gordon Brown faces a fierce investor backlash this week over proposals to hike potential payouts to its senior executives.
Sky News can reveal that Informa, which is in the process of buying UBM in a £4bn deal, will see a significant proportion of shareholders opposing its remuneration policy at its annual meeting on Friday.
The protest vote will make Informa the latest in a string of blue-chip companies, including pharmaceuticals group AstraZeneca and estate agents Foxtons, to be targeted by City institutions during an unexpectedly fractious AGM season.
Informa is run by Lord Carter, a former chief executive of Ofcom and Mr Brown’s strategy chief during the last Labour administration.
The company has angered shareholders by proposing an increase in executive directors’ annual bonus opportunity from 150% to 175% of salary, and its long-term incentive plan from a ceiling of 200% to 325% of basic pay.
Institutional Shareholder Services (ISS), which advises investors how to cast their votes at AGMs, has recommended opposition to Informa’s pay policy – a binding motion which if rejected would force the company back to the drawing board.
In its report, ISS said that while the increased scale of Informa after its merger with UBM justified “some increase” to executive pay, “the timing of such substantial increases, before the merger has been implemented, is questionable”.
Informa’s investors approved the takeover of UBM last month, a deal which combines the owners of the Monaco Yacht Show and Hong Kong’s Jewellery & Gem Fair.
An Informa spokesman said: “Informa, a group growing at scale and pace, has consulted widely on remuneration.
“Shareholder input has been significant and very supportive.
“Proxy agencies have been variously supportive, neutral and in one specific case have raised a targeted objection.
“All this input has been fully considered.”
Vighnesh Padiachy at Bestinver, a longstanding shareholder in the company, said in a statement: “Informa has consulted with us as shareholders and we are very supportive of their approach.”
The flurry of investor revolts so far in 2018 has largely been confined to issues relating to executive pay and ‘overboarding’, which has become an increasingly prominent concern because of directors’ expanding portfolios of jobs.
ISS is recommending that investors abstain on the re-election of Derek Mapp, Informa’s chairman, on account of his other public and private company roles.
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“The integration of UBM and Informa will require additional time commitment, and in this context, his level of outside commitment is of particular concern,” ISS said.
“However, for reasons of continuity, it would not be desirable to change chairman at this stage of a critical acquisition and integration.”