Lloyds Banking Group has defended the 6.3 million pound ($8.06 million) pay package awarded to chief executive Antonio Horta-Osorio, after criticism from politicians and investor trade bodies.
Horta-Osorio’s pay in 2018 has drawn harsh commentary, with particular focus on the generous pension perks that eclipsed those on offer to Lloyds’ broader workforce.
Addressing questions at the company’s annual general meeting, Lloyds Chairman Norman Blackwell insisted executive awards were “fair” and justified given the bank’s turnaround in recent years from the brink of insolvency to becoming one of Europe’s most profitable lenders.
“Let me be clear – our view is we should and need to pay for performance,” Blackwell said, adding of the bank’s senior leadership team that “not many people would do the arduous hours and arduous tasks they do for free”.
But one investor accused the bank’s bosses of “living in a parallel universe” and said awards to bankers like Horta-Osorio – currently Britain’s best paid banking boss – “totally distort the world in which we are living”.
Despite the concerns raised, the remuneration report was backed by 92% of investors that cast their votes.
Investors also questioned the lender’s handling of a major fraud at the bank’s HBOS Reading branch, with at least two accusing Blackwell and fellow executives of lying about the scandal and calling for Blackwell to resign.
In a repeat from last year’s event, British television personality Noel Edmonds posed a barrage of questions about the fraud in a heated, 10-minute exchange with the Lloyds chairman.
Edmonds alleges his former entertainment business collapsed as a result of the HBOS Reading fraud and has long threatened legal action against the bank.
“If you don’t know how many police forces are investigating Lloyds Bank, then you clearly don’t know the extent of the criminality in Lloyds Bank, do you?” Edmonds asked.