Cineworld investors approve management pay, but discontent grows

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FILE PHOTO: People enter a Cineworld cinema following the outbreak of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) near Manchester

(Reuters) - Cineworld shareholders approved a resolution for management pay at the annual general meeting, the company said on Wednesday, but support dwindled after major advisory groups recommended voting against it for being excessive.

The world's second-largest cinema chain, which sunk to its first-ever loss last year due to the COVID-19 crisis, said 74% of the votes cast in the meeting were in favour of the remuneration report.

That marked a significantly lower level of support compared to the 93.41% votes in favour in 2020.

The UK-listed company, which owns Regal Cinemas, said its board will continue its dialogue with shareholders on executive pay matters following this.

Advisory groups Glass Lewis and ISS had recommended shareholders to vote against the executive pay policy, with ISS concerned that the long-term incentive plan (LTIP) was not "appropriate" given the sector's exposure to the pandemic.

The industry has been severely hit by the health crisis, which saw governments across the globe shuttering theatres to control the virus.

The LTIP entails a bonus of up to 65 million pounds for its chief and deputy chief executives each, if performance and share price targets are met.

In the run up to the meeting on Wednesday, money manager Legal & General Investment Management (LGIM) said it had strong concerns about the structure of the LTIP due to its misalignment with the long-term interests of the company, its shareholders and other stakeholders.

LGIM also pointed out the current social sensitivities around income inequality during the pandemic.

(Reporting by Muvija M in Bengaluru; Editing by Shinjini Ganguli)