Wednesday 21 March 2018

Kingspan's Murtagh 'surprised' by focus on pay

Kingspan chief executive Gene Murtagh defended the plan
Kingspan chief executive Gene Murtagh defended the plan
Gavin McLoughlin

Gavin McLoughlin

Over a quarter of shareholder votes went against a new incentive scheme for senior staff at Kingspan.

The scheme had been criticised by shareholder advisory firm ISS, who took a view that the plan released too many shares to executives at a certain performance level.

Chief executive Gene Murtagh defended the plan, saying he was "surprised with the amount of focus it's getting for a business that's performed so well over the last 10 years".

"I think if you look back, in essence we've knocked it out of the park year after year after year," he said, adding that the company would take the result onboard and re-engage with shareholders as always. Last year around a third of shareholder votes went against the company's remuneration package.

Earlier the company said it had seen a good start to the year. Sales of €831.2m for the three months to the end of March were up 24pc year-on-year, after a record year in 2016.

It said the UK remains strong but is a "little softer" since the start of the year.

Mr Murtagh said the "key challenge" for the second quarter was dealing with a rise in input costs, which is set to put pressure on the company's margins.

"We're seeing considerably more cost inflation in the second quarter than we anticipated, and as a result, our selling prices have to respond accordingly. That's really the key challenge in this quarter, passing on those costs," he said.

The company said the UK market, which accounts for around 27pc of its business, was "solid overall although is a little softer than at the turn of the year".

Mr Murtagh said Kingspan was seeing potential customers push back decisions to later in the year, adding that it might be partly Brexit-related.

He said the pricing environment for acquisitions had disimproved, fuelled by cheap debt and a general uplift in positivity.

"I've never had a pipeline as positive, and I've never seen pricing as bad," Mr Murtagh said, adding that the company's full-year acquisition spend was more unpredictable than in prior years.

"We're spinning many dishes, let's put it that way, but struggling to execute on some of the ones that we'd like to."

Irish Independent

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