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Salary of Standard Life's Nish breaks £2m barrier

STANDARD Life chief executive David Nish saw his pay break the £2 million barrier in a year in which he cut 600 jobs in the UK, its annual report for 2011 has revealed.

PAY AWARD: Standard Life chief executive David Nish received a basic salary of £765,000 for 2011, according to the company's annual report.

Meanwhile, he has also been handed shares worth more than £1.5m under a long-term incentive plan, according to a separate stock market filing.

Top pay at the Edinburgh insurer is closely watched following a rebellion by 11.5% of investors at its annual shareholder meeting last year amid concerns about excessive remuneration.

Mr Nish received a basic salary of £765,000 for 2011.

This was supplemented with an annual bonus of just over £1m, of which £616,125 he received in cash.

The remaining £422,375 will be converted into Standard Life shares which he will not be able to cash in until March 2014.

On top of this he received a £222,000 pension allowance paid in lieu of pension provision. He also received taxable benefits worth £17,000.

This took his total remuneration to £2.042m, a 3.6% increase on the £1.971m he received for 2010.

Mr Nish's package was only marginally greater than that of Keith Skeoch, who runs the Edinburgh insurer's fund management arm, Standard Life Investments.

Mr Skeoch received £2.001m for 2011, a 6.9% increase on his £1.872m package for 2010.

His earnings for 2011 included a bonus of nearly £1.5m, the vast bulk of which will be paid in cash, with just £48,000 deferred into Standard Life shares.

Mr Nish's base salary was increased from £725,000 to £775,000 in March last year but is to remain at this level in 2012. Mr Skeoch's basic package is also to be frozen at £425,000.

However, finance director Jackie Hunt had her base salary, which increased from £475,000 to £500,000 in the course of 2011, boosted to £537,500 from last month.

Ms Hunt received £1.2m for 2011, including a £593,000 bonus. This was 59.1% up on her earnings of £766,000 for 2010 after her appointment to her current role in May of that year.

Meanwhile, a stock market announcement revealed that Mr Nish has been handed 665,750 shares, with a paper worth of more than £1.5m, from Standard Life's long-term incentive plan.

Some of these will vest if 2015 operating profit exceeds £675m. He will get all of them if earnings hit £825m that year.

Mr Skeoch was given 730,176 shares, half of them under a separate Standard Life Investments scheme, which have a market value of £1.7m.

Ms Hunt's award was 288,581 shares, worth £664,000.

Meanwhile, a separate stock market filing revealed that 91,524 shares worth nearly £200,000 awarded to Mr Nish as part of his 2009 bonus have vested.

Ms Hunt received 47,158 shares, worth £108,000 while Mr Skeoch got 7163, worth £16,000.

Standard Life made a drive to cut costs last year, reducing its UK workforce from 6800 to 6200. Among the losses were a total of 69 staff from its Edinburgh information technology team.

This, combined with a cut to its pension scheme, helped Standard Life to a better-than-expected 28% rise in 2011 pre-tax profit of £544m.

Mr Nish is positioning Standard Life to benefit from forthcoming reforms to the pensions and financial advice markets.

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