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Persimmon boss Jeff Fairburn has taken home £90mln in wages and bonuses since 2009

Fairburn joined the housebuilder’s board back in 2009, since when his wealth has soared, especially of late
jeff fairburn
Persimmon has returned £2bn to shareholders under Fairburn’s leadership

Jeff Fairburn, the chief executive of Persimmon PLC (LON:PSN), has taken home almost £90mln in wages and bonuses since joining the housebuilding giant’s board back in 2009.

Unsurprisingly, the 52-year-old’s pay-outs surged after he was promoted to the role of chief executive in 2013, but he still earned a fair whack in the years prior to that.

READ: Persimmon boss asked to step down after backlash over pay

A flick through the annual reports reveals that between 2009 and 2012, Fairburn picked up a combined salary, share options and bonuses of £2.5mln.

But after his appointment to the top job, his wealth soared as he collected £85mln in wages, bonuses and options which he had cashed in.

Much of that has come over the past year as a result of a controversial long-term incentive plan which has led to him leaving the FTSE 100 group after 29 years.

Shares worth £45mln vested last December after he and his team hit various performance targets, and that was followed by another £30mln or so worth of shares in July.

Bonus could have been bigger

The second tranche could have been twice as large had Fairburn not given up half of the shares in a failed attempt to silence critics.

But calls for him to hand back the money or resign have only grown louder and the board said on Wednesday it wasn’t prepared to put up with the “distraction” any longer.

Persimmon said the decision was a “mutual agreement and at the request of the company”.

Late last year, the company also accepted the resignations of former chairman Nicholas Wrigley and remuneration committee chair Nigel Mills after they conceded that the LTIP scheme they came up with could and should have included a cap.

‘Hard not to do well’

The detractors will claim that the performance of not just Persimmon but other housebuilders over the past decade or so has not been as phenomenal as their share prices might suggest, making Fairburn unworthy of his hefty pay packets.

Government schemes such as Help to Buy have propped up demand, sending house prices, and housebuilders’ profits, soaring.

But it is impossible to argue that Persimmon is not in a better place now than when he took over the reins five years.

The share price has risen more than 500% since 2012 while Persimmon has returned more than £2bn to investors during that time.  

Still, in an era when executive pay is often the hot topic among shareholders at annual general meetings, a CEO who was due to take home a £100mln+ bonus is always going to garner unfavourable attention regardless of how well they did.

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