Chief of Universal Music Lucian Grainge facing backlash over $100m pay deal

The British boss of Universal Music Group is facing an investor backlash over his “excessive” $100m (£80m) bonus.

Sir Lucian Grainge, chairman and chief executive of Universal, saw his contract extended to 2028 as part of a new pay deal announced last month.

The record label boss’s base salary was reduced to $5m, but he is also entitled to annual bonuses and a one-off “transition equity award” of up to $100m.

Investor advisory groups Institutional Shareholder Services (ISS) and Glass Lewis have urged Universal’s backers to vote down the arrangement at the company’s annual general meeting next month.

In a note to clients, ISS said Universal “did not provide any compelling rationale” for the $100m windfall, adding that pay was “already considered to be excessive”.

Glass Lewis said he had “severe reservations” about the pay deal, adding: “The company failed to implement a remuneration strategy that adequately aligns executive pay with performance.”

The proxy adviser also criticized the Universal board for failing to address dissent from shareholders over executive pay at last year’s general meeting. Almost 30pc of votes went against the pay deal at the shareholder gathering.

The backlash could cause a headache for Sir Lucian, who is one of the most powerful people in the music industry and counts Elton John and Taylor Swift among his personal friends.

The executive, who grew up in north London, has spent his entire career in the music business and took over the top job at Los Angeles-based Universal in 2011.

The major record label, which represents artists including Ariana Grande, Justin Bieber and Lewis Capaldi, has seen its value surge following an initial public offering in Amsterdam in 2011 and the company is today worth €38bn.

Sir Lucian pocketed a bonus of $140m from the stock market listing.

While Universal has performed well over the last 12 years, the company’s share price has dropped 11pc over the last 12 months amid a broader downturn in the market.

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