back to article BT's Patterson keeps his £1.3m wheelbarrow of bonus cash after all

BT chief exec Gavin Patterson has sailed through the annual shareholders’ meeting with his pay untouched, in spite of a late move to curb his £1.3m bonus. Man counts pounds and pence. Photo by Shutterstock A £1.3m prize for a plunging share price at BT? Not so fast... READ MORE Institutional Shareholder Services, a proxy …

This shit gives free markets and capitalism a bad name.

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"This shit gives free markets and capitalism a bad name."

Ten quid says this was rubber stamped by proxy votes. If anybody ever wanted to improve secondary market capitalism, the most obvious thing to do would be to ban the company from being able to wield proxy votes. And stop the board being able to make recommendations on things like remuneration, auditors, and appointments.

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Anonymous Coward

Did it ever have a good name? Look around, people not having enough to live on, workers going to food banks. The government subsidising wages by way of benefits so shareholders get extra money. The free market is a joke as well, name me one privatised industry in the UK that has benefited the people that use it or work for them? BT? Trains? Utilities? Post? (we got ripped off on price on that one) Buses? Steel? See, not one and the NHS is next.

It was never in doubt he was going to get his bonus, a quiet word with the shareholders telling them that if they stop his bonus they'll find it difficult to find another merry go round chief exec that won't cause the share price to nose dive and the greedy capitalists don't want that.

What's the alternative? I'm not sure but the model we currently have isn't going to last very long at the rate it's going, ask the French how it worked out for them when you have an elite and the rest are left to live on scraps.

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Obviously, it's good to walk...

Obviously, it's good to walk*.

*to coin the old BT advert.

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name me one privatised industry in the UK that has benefited the people that use it or work for them? BT? Trains? Utilities? Post? (we got ripped off on price on that one) Buses? Steel? See, not one and the NHS is next.

Well, we could renationalise the lot? Sadly I can remember public sector water, energy, trains, telecoms, steel and they were all shit. Customer hating, inefficient make work schemes, every one - and I've worked in several of these sectors.

Buses and post I'll grant you are as crap today as they've always been.

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Anonymous Coward

I've given the nationalise option quite a bit of thought and don't think it'll work, the government can't run the things it's got now let alone a raft of services. I think a third option of not for profit or profit sharing entities might be the way forward, where they are run in the interest of the people that use and work for them. There should also be no borrowing, if you get your numbers right to include infrastructure and maintenance there should be no need for debt and interest payments they really shouldn't have sucking money out for nothing.

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Avoid any company with "British" in the name.

According to a German friend resident in London. I mean he was right. Starting with the BBC. BMC, makers of boring badge-engineered Morris/Austin/Riley/Wolsely/MG cars, British Leyland that folded BMC into Standard/Triumph/Jaguar/Rover -- that didn't end well. British Airways, British Rail, British Steel, British fucking Telecom.

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name me one privatised industry in the UK that has benefited the people that use it or work for them?

Post WW2, there is a really long list of industries that were nationalised, many of which were making huge losses. Aircraft manufacture, Car manufacture, shipbuilding, coal mining, you name it. This continued up until the point the country was literially bankrupted by the mess and had to go to the IMF with a begging bowl.

The solution to get out of the hole was simply to privatise everything.

The idea was never really about benefiting the people using or working for the companies, it was simply to stop those entities bankrupting the country to the detriment of everybody living in the country.

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Re: Avoid any company with "British" in the name.

BP - originally British Petroleum - seems to be still doing OK.

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Anonymous Coward

@Peter2

True buts that's now how the later privatisations were sold to us.

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If anybody ever wanted to improve secondary market capitalism, the most obvious thing to do would be to ban the company from being able to wield proxy

In many companies, the shares the board members hold are "special" because of the share structure. Some shares a company issues are non-voting, the public ones that have voting privileges are "one share, one vote", then there's the "exec" shares which have many votes per share. Seem that 10 votes per exec share seem common.

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Re: Avoid any company with "British" in the name.

>>BP - originally British Petroleum - seems to be still doing OK<<

It's hard not to make a profit selling oil!

To get to the top in big organisations being better at company politics is far more useful than being able to run the business, that can always be left to subordinates as an 'empowering' strategy. Once nationalised the top job will just go to someone from a different political set.

Nationalise company to save jobs is a political act

Selling off to save money is also a political act

Letting them sink or swim - normal business.

In the past France-Telecom made B-T look good.

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try further out then...

Speak for yourself on the buses... round these parts they're pretty well run with wireless payments, multiple ticket choices, leather seat bedecked hybrid rides with on-board WIFI... the cross county ones even have charging ports and work tables so you work on the thing (if you really must).

I even occasionally get a smile and a polite response from the driver.

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Anonymous Coward

I take it you never went to Eastern Europe before 1989...

The average wage in Poland is still 1/3 of that of the UK - 30 years after the end of communism.

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>>The average wage in Poland is still 1/3 of that of the UK

But that could also mean that UK wages are too high? Or somewhere in between i.e. Poland needs wages to go up but UK needs wages to go down.

When is a wage unsustainably high? Or is no wage too high?

It's the thing I don't understand about wage discussions for unskilled and skilled labour, which gets conflated with the differences in wages between the "rich" and poor. I define poor here as someone who can't make ends meet with their wages or no disposable income after the basics, with the rich being really everyone else with a disposable income after the basics. "Basics" are cultural and subjective.

Minimum wages are needed, but those are really for the unskilled. A bump in minimum wages will bump up the average cost of living.

Which now makes that revised minimum wage less of a living wage. Which then means the wages need to go up again. It's a loop. You'd never reach the point ever where the wage is "fair".

You'd need to keep increasing this, but that cannot be sustainable.

Meanwhile, the other key factor, uplifting the skills of the labour force is ignored, which really is the crux of the problem.

Whether a free market/capitalist/socialist, if you want to talk about the human elements in an economy what really matters is what skills are given value, and whether the policies created are sustainable. The other alternative is to have an economy that secure incredibly valuable resources of the time (oil, technology, etc) to support the unskilled labour force and wages rises. This latter thing is not an option for most countries today if we are interested in peace.

So the capitalist vs socialist discussion I find flawed because neither secure upskilling of the resource pool of the economy - whether human or material. The discussions mostly is about which is better at kicking the ball down the road - not about solving anything.

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Anonymous Coward

not for profit?

You mean like Nominet? not for profit except for very generous salaries, esp the bosses, a monopoly of UK domains, unnecessary price rises...

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Re: not for profit?

The best option, IMO would be to simply ensure that these sort of companies (especially companies like Nominet) are either owned by the Crown Estate, or are setup on a similar basis.

In short, for those not already aware the Crown Estate is a business with 14Billion worth of assets, but pays all of it's yearly profits (~£330million) into the bottomless pit of HM Treasury. If the public pays for things such as a fiber rollout in areas where it is not economically viable for companies to pay for it then my view is that those assets shouldn't just be gifted to BT/Openreach and should instead be held by the Crown Estate and then rented to them to recoup at least some of the cost for the taxpayer.

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Re: try further out then...

> round these parts they're pretty well run with wireless payments, multiple ticket choices, leather seat bedecked hybrid rides with on-board WIFI

Same round here. Though the price has also shot up as a result.

From the train station to my house is 0.8 miles. Uphill. So when I got back from a long trip dahn saff, I decided to grab a bus.

Turns out this involved a 10 minute wait and a 2 quid charge.

An uber would have cost around 3 quid, taken less time to arrive, had a shorter travel time and would have dropped me straight outside my front door. And there wouldn't be any risk of drunk people, screaming babies, highly fragrant individuals or any of the other things you occasionally get on public transport in a major city.

But hey - I got to pay by credit card, and there's a shiny screen at the front of the bus to tell me where to get off!

At this point though, while the cost delta would rapidly add up for a daily return journey, for a one-off journey, the cost delta between public transport and a taxi is low enough to make the latter the default option.

And that's a great shame.

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Re: try further out then...

Uber is subsidised pricing and potentially predatory..

So it is expected to be close to other less convenient transport options, and lower than the equivalent or better options.

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The average wage in Poland is still 1/3 of that of the UK

And what are the cost-of-living comparisons? It's *utterly* meaningless to compare incomes unless you also compare how much it costs to buy food, transportation and so on.

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Re: try further out then...

I did wonder if someone would pipe up about Uber's subsidising ;) And yes, a black cab would probably be about a fiver, while a dial-a-cab would fall somewhere inbetween. Or I could even walk![*]

The bus is still ridiculously overpriced though - it seems like 2 quid is pretty much the lowest-price ticket available since a recent "levelling" revamp. Prior to that, the same journey would have been a quid!

Then too, I actually work in the city centre, so have three choices: I can walk into work, which takes 35-40 minutes. I can take the bus, which takes 25-40 minutes[**]. Or I can drive, which takes under ten minutes - I'm on flexitime, so meander back and forth outside the peak rush hours.

Cost of the bus: 2 quid each way. Cost of driving: about 30p in fuel and a fiver in a local carpark.

So once again, the bus has priced itself out of usefulness; for just over a quid more, I can save up to an hours travel time!

Which brings us back (in a roundabout way) to subsidies and public utilities, as per BT's origins in ye olde Royal Mail. But it's probably worth saving all of that until pint'o'clock comes around on the morrow...

[*] But... it's all uphill. Literally: there's two flights of steps within the train station and *then* 180 steps from the back of the station to the /bottom/ of the hill which I live on. At least I'll never get flooded out!

[**] Thanks to the winding route it takes and the fact that they often do a driver changeover... where the new driver is nowhere to be found. Oh, and the buses often bunch up, so you'll get nothing for 15 minutes, then three will turn up in a nice wee convoy. Oh, how we laugh as the queues build up at the bus stop!

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Facepalm

CxOs: Have your cake and eat it!

If the share price is going up, obviously it's the CxOs brilliant helmsmanship. If the share price is going down, it's obviously market forces, and the CxO should get their bonus anyway as it would have been much worse without them.

Does anyone know of a CxO who couldn't be replaced by a very small script? IMHO, they're too far removed from strategy, products & operations to understand or influence them, even if middle-management don't obstruct the information flow.

ISTR at least one CEO denied knowing what was going on in their company, to avoid taking blame for illegal actions. I don't think it was BMW - though the CEO there, with an Engineering background, said "make our cars pass emissions tests" and took no interest in how it was done.

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Re: CxOs: Have your cake and eat it!

Does anyone know of a CxO who couldn't be replaced by a very small script?

if $newshareprice > $oldshareprice then acceptBonus

else acceptBonus

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Anonymous Coward

£1.3m !!!

He could open a soup kitchen for the poor...

.....waiting....

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Down with this sort of thing.

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Anonymous Coward

Government could...

... do something but they appear to continue to turn a blind-eye this kind of business practise (or at best, say how shockling it is but do nothing). Maybe I'm a cynic but does HMRC get a big slice of that £1.3M? Do these businesses (and lucky individuals) give political party donations? Or jobs to failed/retired politicians?

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Anonymous Coward

Same old.....

Cash---Snout----Trough---

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In entirely unrelated news...

BT have just written to let me know their prices are going up by £2.50/month.

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