ITV shareholders to vent spleen over Green's £15m pay

LONDON - Furious ITV shareholders are set to vent their anger today at three Carlton directors who authorised the controversial award of £15m in payments to ousted Carlton chief Michael Green.

Some shareholders are set to vote against the election of the three men to new ITV board, following advice issued by shareholder group, the Pension and Investment Research Consultants, at the broadcaster's inaugural annual general meeting.

Earlier this year Sir Brian Pitman, the interim chairman of ITV, met a number of institutional investors who were furious about the size of the payoff, which saw Green pocket £13.2m in shares and £1.8m in cash.

Sir Brian defended the payment, saying that the award was not a "pay-off" for Green, who spent 20 years at Carlton before being ousted as ITV chairman designate by investors led by Anthony Bolton from fund manager Fidelity International.

His defence has smoothed the way with some groups. The Association of British Insurers, for instance, has indicated it has no significant disagreement with the re-election of the three men. The National Association of Pension Funds has also decided not to vote against the three following the talks with Sir Brian.

The three former Carlton executives in the firing line are John McGrath and Etienne de Villiers, who along with Sir Brian authorised the payment. As well as the payment to Green, the three also gave the go-ahead to a further £12m in payments to two other Carlton directors, Paul Murray and David Abdoo.

According to some reports, the shareholder protest vote is likely to be large enough to see the three kicked off of the board. However, many shareholders are likely to abstain than vote against.

The shareholders leading the protest are the same ones who also want to see former Granada boss Charles Allen replaced as ITV chief executive.

Last week there was fresh speculation that alternative candidates were being courted when new ITV chairman Sir Peter Burt held a meeting with former BBC director general Greg Dyke.

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