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Is Trinity Mirror boss Sly Bailey the UK’s most overpaid chief executive?

Sly Bailey has pocketed £12.4m during her nine years at the helm – while the share price has plunged 87%

Who is the most overpaid chief executive of a UK quoted company? A strong case can be made for Sly Bailey of Trinity Mirror – and is being made. There is “mounting unhappiness” among shareholders over her pay, according to the FT this morning (£).

That should be no surprise if you inspect the table below, compiled from Trinity Mirror’s annual reports, showing how much Bailey has collected during her nine years at the helm of the newspaper group. Add up the salary, the bonuses, the benefits, the pension contributions, and a couple of share awards and you get £12.4m.

Not bad for a company whose share price has plunged so far that it is now a member of the small cap index worth only £120m. If you bought the shares in February 2003 when Bailey became chief executive, you’ve lost 87% of your capital and no longer enjoy a dividend.

Newspaper-land is a tough place in the age of the internet, as we all know. But Sarah Wilson, chief executive of Manifest, the proxy voting agency, makes a fair point when she tells the FT that Bailey “is being paid a FTSE 100 package and the company is not even in the FTSE 250″.

What was the Trinity Mirror pay committee thinking when it drew up her package? Go back to the 2003 annual report to find out. The chair of the committee told the owners that “it is vital that we move to much more of a performance culture within the group and in particular among the senior management group who will lead the company”. To the extent that performance is measured by the share price, that ambition hasn’t worked out as intended.

Who was the chair of that 2003 pay committee? It was Penny Hughes, who now performs the same role at Royal Bank of Scotland. Hughes’s long experience on pay committees, RBS has said, made her well qualified for the post. Of course it did.

Gary Hoffman and Jane Lighting were Hughes’s successors as head of the Trinity Mirror pay committee. But new group chairman David Grigson is the chap with the task of delivering the bad news to Bailey – the shareholders will no longer tolerate £1m-plus a year.

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