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Shareholders asked to back bonus plan

STANDARD Life has written to shareholders asking them to back a new pay plan that would allow the pensions and investment giant to claw back bonuses even after an executive has left the company.

The Edinburgh-based company yesterday sent out details of its annual investor meeting, which is to be held in the capital on May 13, at which shareholders will be asked to back a new incentive plan to replace the current one that expires at the end of 2014.

While giving the Standard Life board greater powers to strip executives of awards if future performance shows they didn't deserve them, the new policy also allows the board to hand over long-term incentive awards of up to 300% of salary.

In the case of chief executive David Nish, who has been proposed for a 2.5% rise in base pay to £810,000 this year, this could be worth £2.43 million. Currently, the LTIP is worth up to 200% of salary for Mr Nish.

Standard Life, which recently announced a deal for Glasgow and London- based funds house Ignis, said it intends to award an LTIP of 200% of salary for the 2014 financial year.

The new LTIP will be based on a three-year performance period but shares will have to be held for another two years before they vest.

How much of the award vests will depend on operating profits and net flows of assets. As part of the new policy the company will require its executives to hold shares obtained from incentives for at least a year after an executive leaves the firm.

The Herald revealed in December that Standard Life was consulting investors over the prolonged holding period after its funds arm Standard Life Investments announced its support for arrangements that would require directors and senior executives to retain an "appropriate" proportion of the shares they own after they leave a company.

Standard Life said the proposals have been supported by a number of its institutional investors.

Shares closed up 3.7p, or 1%, at 381.2p.

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