C&W chairman in plea to join fat cat bonanza

Executive helicopters all round

Cable and Wireless has announced plans to rejig its rules on bonuses so its chairman can join other top brass at the firm in bagging a huge haul of shares.

When the record-breaking bonanza for other execs was debated at last year's AGM, chairman Richard Lapthorne faced a barrage of criticism from shareholders, but the awards were approved.

If Cable and Wireless can get its rebellious shareholders to agree to diamond-encrusting another board seat at this year's meeting on 30 July, Lapthorne would score 5.5 million shares in three years' time, provided total shareholder returns are in the global top ten of companies. At today's prices, the shares would be worth almost £11m. The proposed new contract suggests no change to his current annual salary of £386,000.

Clive Butler, a senior non-executive director at the firm, sold the windfall thus: "The board considered it a priority to secure Richard's continuing contribution to the turnaround and transformation of our business beyond his current fixed term. These proposed arrangements reflect the reality of the chairman's involvement and commitment to Cable & Wireless and are in the best interests of all shareholders."

Lapthorne joined Cable and Wireless at its lowest ebb in 2003, and has overseen a brutal cost-cutting programme, which has included thousands of redundancies. Over the last year the company's stock price has doubled, marking it out as a potential acquisiton target. At the same time as pushing equality in island-buying power in the boardroom, the company is pushing for a £20m cap on the bonuses to be removed.

Cable and Wireless' notification to investors is here. ®

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