Green's £15m Payout Leaves ITV Shareholders Fuming

05 March 2004

Shareholders in UK broadcast giant ITV are up in arms after it emerged that Michael Green's £13.2 million ($24.1m; €19.8m) payoff is far higher than originally thought.

Green was chairman of Carlton Communications, which recently merged with Granada to unite the two dominant shareholders in the ITV network. He was in line for the same role at the combined company, named ITV plc, but was ruthlessly deposed in a shareholder rebellion [WAMN: 23-Oct-03].

Last year it was revealed that Green received a £1.8m golden goodbye -- a sum that left some shareholders bemused, not least because Green (as he liked to boast) had no contract with the company.

But Carlton's final annual report disclosed that Green also benefits from a number of share options, the combined value of which will swell his payoff to £15m.

"It's an embarrassment to capitalism," blasted an anonymous ITV shareholder. "It's clearly unjustified."

Green's windfall is part of a £27.3m payout to ex-Carlton directors left out in the cold in the wake of the merger. Former finance director Paul Murray, in the role for just a year, receives £7.3m, while onetime company secretary David Abdoo takes home £5m.

The options that have triggered such massive payouts were initially tied to Carlton's performance. But following the change in control of the company, they have paid out in full -- leaving some investors questioning the wisdom of such schemes.

"Everyone was under the misapprehension that £1.8m was what [Green] got," remarked another ITV shareholder. "One worries about incentive plans which pay out as a result of a company being taken over."

Data sourced from: Financial Times; additional content by WARC staff