By Alexis Flynn
LONDON—BP PLC's decision to pay "excessive" compensation to top managers who had responsibility during a fatal oil-well explosion in the Gulf of Mexico should be opposed by shareholders at the company's annual general meeting April 14, U.K. proxy-voting adviser PIRC said Tuesday.
Although neither former Chief Executive Tony Hayward nor former head of exploration and production Andy Inglis received a cash bonus for 2010, PIRC said the salaries and benefits paid to both men, including what PIRC described as their continued participation in the company's performance share scheme, were excessive.
PIRC said it was "concerned that the departing directors were being treated as good leavers for the purposes of the share scheme. Any compensation payments should be staggered over at least one calendar year. We therefore recommend that shareholders oppose the remuneration report," PIRC said.
However, BP disputed PIRC's conclusions, saying it was "puzzled" by the activist group's numbers.
"As we set out in our Remuneration Report published earlier this month, 2010 was rightly overshadowed by the Gulf of Mexico disaster. No executive director received any shares under the long-term Executive Director's Incentive Plan, and no annual bonuses were awarded for group performance," the company said in a statement.
"Tony Hayward and Andy Inglis received their contractual entitlement on leaving the company," the statement continued.
BP has been in the spotlight since the Deepwater Horizon disaster last year, which killed 11 workers, led to a massive oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico and resulted in the company writing off some $40.9 billion in spill-related costs. It led to Messrs. Hayward and Inglis losing their positions.
Mr. Hayward is currently a nonexecutive director of BP's Russian joint venture, TNK-BP, while Mr. Inglis was appointed an executive director at Petrofac /zigman2/quotes/202340229/delayed UK:PFC +4.69% Ltd. in January.