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Salary freezes and lower bonuses predicted for FTSE100 executives, in response to 'shareholder spring'

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Remuneration committees of FTSE100 companies are starting to show restraint when setting their executive packages this year, with widespread salary freezes and lower bonus payouts.

Research from consultancy firm FIT Remuneration revealed 32% of CEOs in FTSE100 companies will not receive a salary increase this year.

At a median, a FTSE CEO receives a base salary of £870,000, the research revealed.

It also showed bonus payouts have reduced, down to 69% of the maximum bonus possible, compared to 77% a year ago.

Long-term incentive awards at FTSE 100 companies have largely remained unchanged.

Rob Burdett, a partner at FIT Remuneration, is in "no doubt", that last year's shareholder activism, dubbed "shareholder spring", has had a "lasting effect".

"Our survey shows that remuneration committees are taking notice of the ever-increasing focus on executive pay, as manifested in last year's shareholders' spring. As a result, salary increases have tended to be either non-existent or inflation-linked," he said.

"Also, annual bonus payouts are appreciably lower than the prior year, notwithstanding the strong recovery in markets seen in 2012 and which has continued into this year.

"We have seen some remuneration committee's reducing the size of the bonus that would be paid out based on a formulaic test of performance against the bonus targets, on the basis that other factors might make this bonus look inappropriate.

"This is exactly the sort of judgement call investors want to see remuneration committee's making."

Burdett added: "This [shareholder spring] together with the new disclosure requirements and increased investor voting power that will come in with the new business, innovation and skills regulations, means companies will need to ever more clearly demonstrate their pay policies are appropriate and genuinely support a company's business strategy."

This trend of pay freezes for top level executives continued yesterday as supermarket giant Morrisons revealed it will not be awarding annual bonuses to executive directors, after they failed to meet company growth targets.

This follows recent similar announcements of bonus cuts for executives in organisations such as: Aviva, Barclays, Lloyds Banking Group and Trinity Mirror.