ITV Shareholders Retreat Over Green's £15m Payoff

20 April 2004

It didn't happen. After weeks of gale-force huffings and puffings to the media, the expected revolt of ITV shareholders over Michael Green's £15 million ($26.96m; €22.59m) golden goodbye, on Monday fizzled out like a suppressed belch.

Green, former boss of Carlton Communications (junior partner in the friendly £5.8 billion merger with Granada to form a united ITV), was slated as chairman-designate of the combined venture.

His appointment, however, was not to the liking of a cabal of disgruntled investors led by influential fund manager Anthony Bolton, the London Tsar of US-owned Fidelity Investments, whose efforts led to Green's ousting last fall.

The former chairman's pain was in no small part assuaged by a company cheque bearing the magic number fifteen followed by six zeros. But this, argued Bolton and other institutional shareholders, was excessive -- not least because Green in his glory days was fond of boasting that he had no formal contract with Carlton.

The objectors intended to demonstrate their displeasure at Monday's inaugural general meeting of ITV by voting against the re-election of the three former Carlton directors who rubber-stamped Green's payment, also urging other shareholders to veto the trio.

The word 'obscene' was used at the meeting to describe the payment, while the usual suspects continued to huff and puff. But to no avail. Over eighty per cent of the shareholders attending the meeting (and their proxies) in effect approved the Green deal by voting for the re-election of Sir Brian Pitman, Etienne de Villiers and John McGrath.

The trio's approval of Green's little windfall was not willingly given, Pitman claimed, but was legally due. "It's a matter of law, not a matter of fairness," he said. "I was not happy about the amount, nobody on the Carlton board was happy about the amount, but we had to follow the law."

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