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GVC management could face shareholder discontent over pay packages

Despite a positive series of acquisitions and financial results, the board at GVC Holdings plc could find itself facing shareholder concerns regarding the high level of executive remuneration at its agm next month, according to a report in the publication This Is Money over the weekend.

InfoPowa readers may recall that Playtech plc stakeholders earlier this month refused to approve a remuneration report which signed off a 67 percent pay rise to CEO Mor Weizer.

The GVC objections centre on share options awarded to chief executive Kenny Alexander worth GBP 44.9 million which have been paying out since 2016, and similar rewards to chairman Lee Feldman worth GBP 22.5 million.

The reward scheme was introduced after GVC’s GBP 1 .1 billion takeover of online betting firm Bwin.party, the report notes, and are linked to GVC's share price, which recently topped GBP 10 a share.

Because the reward is paid over nine instalments, it has not thus far attracted too much attention, but This Is Money claims that options maturing in 2017 took the chief executive's total remuneration to GBP 18 million over the year, observing that this is 550 times the average GVC employee salary.

Over the same period Feldman's reward totalled GBP 8.8 million, including a GBP 1 million bonus.

Asked for comment, Luke Hildyard, director of campaign group The High Pay Centre, said that payments one tenth or even one hundredth of this size would still be an extraordinary windfall in most people’s eyes and more than enough to reward or incentivise anyone.

Pirc and Glass Lewis, two firms that advise shareholders, agreed, declaring the rewards to be excessive and urging shareholders to vote against the report of GVC's remuneration committee at the agm in Gibraltar next month.

Glass Lewis went so far as to brand the un-capped rewards as ‘exceptionally disproportionate’.

If shareholders object, it will not be the first time; last year 43 percent of them rejected the remuneration committee's report, This Is Money notes.

GVC declined comment when approached by This Is Money.

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