Wednesday 23 October 2019

Top investor backs Liberty Global after CEO's $33m pay deal


Liberty Global owns Virgin Media Ireland. Photo: Nick Ansell/PA
Liberty Global owns Virgin Media Ireland. Photo: Nick Ansell/PA

Joe Mayes and Thomas Pfeiffer

The biggest institutional shareholder in Liberty Global - owner of Virgin Media Ireland - is rallying behind the European cable company after it handed CEO Mike Fries a $33m(€29.4m) pay award.

About 76pc of votes were cast in favour of the pay plan at an investor meeting, the same proportion that approved last year's compensation report. Shareholder advisory groups have repeatedly criticised Liberty Global's pay policies, to little avail.

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The non-binding vote passed with help from Liberty Global's Irish-American billionaire chairman, John Malone, and other insiders who control the London-based, US-listed cable company.

Fries has been among the world's highest-paid chief executives in recent years.

Asked how he voted in the compensation motion, David Herro, chief investment officer of International Equities at Harris Associates, said: "We're generally supportive of management of Liberty Global. A huge percentage of this company is owned by them." Liberty Global's cash pile is set to swell to $17.5bn after major disposals in central and eastern Europe.

Virgin Media will be its biggest remaining asset once regulators approve the continental asset sales.


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