Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

City Spy

Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

City Spy

Article excerpt

SELF-SERVING poppycock from Sir Christopher Gent, once chief of Vodafone, now chairman of GlaxoSmithKline. In a newspaper interview, he talks about the [pounds sterling]10 million "bonus" he received when Vodafone acquired Mannesmann - a payment that raised eyebrows in the City.

It wasn't what it looked like, he insists. Of course it wasn't. It "was about execution of the strategy rather than recognition of one particular transaction". And when the board proposed the sum, "I was the one who said 'well, look, the fairest thing to do is to take at least half of it in shares'." We're dying to know more. Did Gent look uncomfortable when confronted with a suggestion to pay him [pounds sterling]10 million? Did his glasses steam up in excitement? When, in an oh-so-generous gesture, he said he would take [pounds sterling]5 million in cash, the rest in shares, did any director try to insist he have the whole lot in cash? Was any director foolish enough to recommend he get it all in shares? If so, what was Gent's reaction? Please tell.

GENT now finds himself at Glaxo and having to deal with the vast pay packet of chief executive Jean-Pierre Garnier. Even Gent, it seems, baulked at Garnier's deal, saying there were "aspects of JP's package which were difficult to comprehend" and it "was one of the little things we had to sort out when we first met". Tricky Chris doesn't say what, exactly, was sorted or how "little". But he wants to make it clear that he, Sir Christopher Gent, is not motivated by money.

As if. "I've done what I've done not because of what I've been paid," he says. It was right, he adds, that he was richly rewarded at Vodafone and that Garnier continues to draw a huge wad at Glaxo because, by having a highly paid chief, a company can pay its lower orders more - which means they are less likely to be headhunted. …

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