Foxtons faces investor backlash over CEO’s near-£1m bonus

Shareholder advisory firms ISS and Glass Lewis are urging shareholder groups to vote against Foxtons’ remuneration report at the firm’s annual meeting on 22 April.

Another advisory firm, Pirc, has said investors should abstain from voting, which is viewed as a form of protest against a meeting resolution.

The London estate agent is facing a backlash from investors over a decision to pay its chief executive, Nic Budden, a bonus despite taking almost £7m in government Covid support.

The company, which took about £4.4m in furlough money and £2.5m in business rates relief, plans to hand Budden an annual bonus payment of £389,300 in 2020. In addition, he has also been given shares worth £569,000 under a long-term incentive scheme, which will be released in five years’ time.

Yesterday, the company revealed that it had made a £3m investment in Boomin, just a few weeks after spending £14.25m to acquire rival London agency Douglas & Gordon. In November, Foxtons paid £2.2m for Aston Rowe.

However, Budden’s total pay package grew to £1.6m compared to £1.25m in the previous year. And this year’s pay deal includes a long-term share award totalling £569,000 which can be accessed in five years’ time.

ISS, which will recommend that investors vote against the company’s remuneration report later this month, stated: “There is a material disconnect between bonus outcomes and company performance for the year under review.”

ISS said that it was concerned that Foxtons this did not “adequately acknowledge the impact of Covid-19, which has caused the company to seek government support and conduct an emergency (dilutive) capital raise during the year”.

ISS added: “Some investors may question the appropriateness of awarding bonus payments to the executive directors before paying back the government support received.”

The Investment Association, which is a group of 250 fund managers, has issued a ‘red top’ alert on Foxtons’ pay via its Institutional Voting Information Service (AVIS). A ‘red’ alert by AVIS represents the highest level of concern over a particular issue.

A spokesman for Foxtons told the press: “Like many businesses, Foxtons was forced to close for months over the past year. We were very grateful for government support which we used for as short a period as possible but entirely as it was intended – to keep people in jobs during a lengthy closure.”

Last year, Foxtons reported a 12% fall in revenues to £93.5m but its pre-tax loss narrowed from £8.8m to £1.4m.


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  1. Hillofwad71

    Nic Budden has shown a singular  lack of  judgement here and  misjudged the mood . Foxtons no strangers to reputational damage in the past  might find this will  cost them instructions at the gate .
    Factor in they have also  been playing fast and loose with the company chequebook buying in revenue and a speculative  £3m punt into Boomin,the jury is definitely  out .
      They have just lost their M&A man Beckwith to Purplebricks.
    Did he leave  a poison pill behind?
      All very disappointing as they had emerged from lockdown well .
    Thank  goodness for Winkworths  

    1. AlwaysAnAgent

      A good summary H. He’s made a dreadful mistake in taking a bonus without repaying furlough and grant monies.

      Taxpayers do not mind helping businesses stay afloat but they will not tolerate firms which have used furlough and grants to fund bonuses and dividend payouts.

      There is a lot more of this to come.

  2. 40yearvetran08

    It is wrong that government money should be used to pay directors bonuses. Without the support given these companies would have been in a right pickle. If there is now spare cash available the staff on the frontline should be reimbursed with what they lost out by being furloughed as most of these companies only paid their staff the minimum they could get away with. A negotiator who is struggling on 80% of £25k without any commission probably saw a 50% cut in income. It is a slap in the face for these poor staff to see a bonus paid, n effect it is those staff who have paid it.

    1. AlwaysAnAgent

      You’re comparing directors pay and employees pay, in the same breath as furlough monies, and that isn’t correct.   Directors pay isn’t the issue as it should be higher for the risk and responsibilities that go with it and, of course, rewards are absolutely fine.
      If the neg doesn’t like their £25k salary they should leave and find a different career or work hard, take risks and become a director. 
      Using taxpayers money for “profits and bonuses” is not acceptable. Not now, not ever, and eventually more and more firms will be exposed. 

      1. haveathink

        Agree that there should be a significant difference for earnings to founding directors who take all the risk, but not employed directors parachuted in to public companies who let’s face it have no skin in the game with the risk associated to level of bonus earned and are protected by the overall board for checks and balances.

      2. LVW4

        We are also talking about morality, which Foxton has always lacked. Taking taxpayers money, not paying staff, while buying other companies and paying bonuses to directors is simply wrong.

        You talk about ‘risk’, but when you are at that level, your contract will be water tight, and if you do leave, it will be with a nice pay off.

        If you really want to talk about risk, then look at the directors of small companies who have received zero government support and are funding their businesses from their pockets to keep things going until times get better or the business fails. No big pay off for them.

        1. AlwaysAnAgent

          And when these directors become successful will you criticise them too, at that point, for being successful? That sounds Marxist to me.

          Criticising success is mean and bitter and is usually based on jealousy The repayment of furlough and grants is the crux of the morality issue.

          1. LVW4

            Me… Communist! My friends would have a good laugh at that!
            I’m not criticising directors who earn their bonuses. I am a director and have spent my life taking huge personal risks in return for commission, bonuses and dividends. I have never done it at the expense of others. 

            1. AlwaysAnAgent

              I know the feeling! I think that aspiration and success should be celebrated. I completely agree and not at the expense of the taxpayer! 

  3. haveathink

    It’s not just that they’ve  accessed furlough monies and paid bonuses.

    They’ve also gone on an acquisition spree and made a speculative investment in a unlisted company.

    Interesting revenue down and losses have narrowed.   Would indicate they have indeed lost staff and not replaced.


  4. ChrisHeginbotham60

    CEO of the RICS takes £42k discretionary bonus on top of salary whilst furloughing staff and then making 140 redundant.

  5. James White

    There are a lot of firms patting themselves on the back for a fabulous year end……

    Deduct the publics money and then decide how good it was…….

    If the money has gone into employing more people then many could live with that …… I suspect many a retiring director has their beedy eye on the cash though………

  6. conoco9

    Didn’t Connells furlough most of their staff across 600 branches then buy Countrywide?

    1. Jack King

      Well said. Foxtons being cast as the pantomime villain once again. Plenty of companies bigging up their prospects at the moment (who benefited from government support last year) yet nobody seems to call them out with the same enthusiasm.

      1. majortom1

        To be fair Jack King Connells only trousered £27 million form the Government scheme so that’s a bit unfair.


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