How much is too much?

Jeff Fairburn’s gargantuan bonus is the house building story that just won’t go away. In light of the outcry at the £100m plus he was slated to receive Persimmon’s Fairburn agreed to reduce it to £75m and make a sizable donation to charity.

For many this wasn’t anywhere near enough. At the recent Persimmon AGM, 48% of shareholders voted against the payout and 30% abstained. Euan Stirling of Aberdeen Investments, a 2.3% shareholder in Persimmon said the reduction “did not even get close to acceptable”

ShareAction, a pressure group committed to responsible investment and greater financial transparency attended the Persimmon AGM to petition Fairburn and point out that his bonus would pay 4,100 people the Living Wage outside of London. An inequality they described as “indefensible”.

So where do Fairburn and Persimmon go from here? What figure would be widely accepted by investors, politicians and the wider public? It’s hard to imagine that number would be any more than a small fraction of £75m which would mean Persimmon effectively tearing up their LTIP scheme in operation for the past five years. And whilst Fairburn gets all the headlines, several hundred senior directors in Persimmon have benefitted hugely from this scheme. If Fairburn is taking a hit should they be too? It all sounds rather messy.