Investor backlash at Countrywide prompts pay chief to quit

A Countrywide board member who drew up a £20m executive pay plan at the estate agency group is to step down after an investor revolt, according to Sky News.

Sky reports that head-hunters have been hired to find a replacement for Cathy Turner. Turner was appointed non-executive director of the company and chairman of the company’s remuneration committee in July 2013. She’s also non-executive director and chair of the remuneration committee for Aldermore PLC and Old Mutual Wealth.

Sources told Sky that Ridgeway Partners has been tasked with identifying a new non-executive director to chair the company’s remuneration committee.

Currently it’s unclear as to whether Turner will step down from the Countrywide board altogether or just relinquish her responsibility for setting boardroom pay.

Countrywide, which operates under brands including Hamptons International and Bairstow Eves, was also hit by a pay row in August when it announced a new incentive scheme called the Absolute Growth Plan which could have handed its top three executives more than £20m.

The summer also saw a failed bond issue which forced the group to rely on emergency equity raising to shore up its balance sheet.
Countrywide’s share price fell to its lowest-ever level yesterday, sinking mid-morning to a new low of 8.50p before recovering and ending the day at 9.26p.

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