SKB’s Bonfield joins pay storm

Finance director Andrew Bonfield is among the SmithKline Beecham board members who will be forced later this month to defend themselves against accusations their bonuses are too easy to achieve.

Shareholders in the pharmaceuticals giant are expected to raise the issue at its annual general meeting on 27 April. They are expected to demand more challenging bonus targets.

One investor, Standard Life, said it was considering its position. ‘SKB has not dealt with our concerns. We will now consider to what extent we will continue to be supportive,’ said a spokesman.

Bonfield, 36 – one of the youngest FDs among FTSE-100 companies – took over the position at the beginning of the year, so his salary was not shown in the recently published 1998 annual report. His predecessor in the post, Hugh Collum, earned #363,000, including a #67,000 bonus.

Chief executive Jan Leschly’s #93m nine-year pay package appears to be the main trigger for the current concerns.

SKB responded by saying that remuneration packages were set by an independent committee, and benchmarked against those of other global corporate giants.

Meanwhile, the position of deputy finance director, which was previously held by Bonfield, has yet to be filled.

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