A fat cat building boss has picked up shares worth £26million – and given more than £3million of them to his wife.
Jeff Fairburn, chief executive of Persimmon, collected 963,020 shares in the first slice of a controversial long-term bonus plan that has seriously damaged the housebuilder’s reputation.
The stock was worth £26.3million last night, although after tax their value fell to £13.9million.
The 52-year-old Yorkshireman, who has been dubbed ‘Mr £131million’ over the potential size of his total payout under the bonus scheme, handed 117,865 of the shares, worth £3.2million, to his wife Jayne.
£131m bonus: Jeff Fairburn, chief executive of Persimmon, was awarded 963,020 shares as part of a long-term bonus plan that has seriously damaged the housebuilder’s reputation
The couple, who have been married for a quarter of a century, have three children and live in Durham.
Persimmon finance director Mike Killoran, 56, was also in the money after being awarded shares worth £36.8million – or £19.5million after tax.
The company, which sold 16,043 new homes last year at an average price of £213,321, has faced a barrage of criticism over the size of the payouts due through a bonus scheme agreed in 2012.
At one point Fairburn was on course to receive £131million, making him one of the highest-paid executives in corporate history.
The row led to the shock resignation of chairman Nicholas Wrigley late last year following a fierce backlash from investors, politicians and campaigners.
Fairburn has since agreed to give up 30 per cent of his total payout and hand a ‘substantial proportion’ of his windfall to charity.
But the company has continued to face condemnation, with critics claiming its success has in part been built on a taxpayer subsidy via the Government’s Help To Buy mortgage scheme.
Rachel Reeves MP, chairman of the business committee, last week branded the bonus payments ‘egregious’, adding: ‘Executive pay at Persimmon is a tale of corporate greed and incompetent pay management, financed on the back of a taxpayer-funded housing scheme.’
Before quitting as chairman, Wrigley suggested the bonuses were required to keep hold of senior executives. ‘We need to make sure that all the key people are onside and fully committed,’ he said.
Months later Wrigley and fellow director Jonathan Davie, who as head of the remuneration committee signed off the pay deal, quit, admitting the size of the bonuses should have been capped.
The company was rocked by a shareholder revolt at its annual meeting in April, when 48.5 per cent of investors voted against its pay policies.