Bonuses to Sirius Minerals boss 'rub salt in the wounds of investors', says MP

The £1.3m in bonuses for the former Sirius Minerals CEO “rubs salt into the wound” for local shareholders who lost out, says Scarborough and Whitby’s MP.

Friday, 14th August 2020, 12:52 pm
Updated Friday, 14th August 2020, 12:56 pm

Robert Goodwill said it was disappointing that the bonuses were paid out to former Sirius Minerals boss Chris Fraser by the mining company, which was then acquired by Anglo American in a cut-price takeover.

Many of the people who bought shares in the company lost their investment when the takeover happened.

Mr Goodwill said: “When shares were paid out at five-and-a-half pence, people who paid more feel justifiably aggrieved and angry and this just rubs salt into the wound.”

Chris Fraser, left, and Robert Goodwill, right, with Northern Powerhouse Minister Andrew Percy at the Woodsmith Mine naming ceremony in 2017.

Chris Fraser bagged nearly £900,000 in bonus share payments and was awarded a further £417,000 performance bonus for 2019, Companies House filings show.

Former finance director Thomas Staley received payment for his shares of nearly £600,000. On top of this, he picked up a performance bonus of £279,000.

Mining giant Anglo American acquired Sirius in May for a cut price of 5.5p per share after the business failed to raise enough funds to keep its fertiliser mine project near Whitby alive.

It saw 85,000 small investors, including 25,000 shareholders in Yorkshire and the North East, lose out.

Local shareholders saw the Sirius share price sink from 45p in 2016. Following the takeover, the company was renamed Anglo American Woodsmith, and it still has its headquarters at Eastfield.

Anglo American said the decisions on remuneration were taken by the remuneration committee of the board of Sirius, prior to the completion of the acquisition, and were in line with the remuneration policy approved by 80 per cent of Sirius’ shareholders at the May 2018 AGM.

Both Mr Fraser’s and Mr Staley’s performance bonuses could have been much higher but failure to raise enough finance to continue development meant they missed out.

A spokesman for Anglo American said: “This element of the 2019 bonus clearly was not achieved and therefore the bonus relating to this objective was zero.

“Their total awards represented a 12 per cent and 8 per cent reduction respectively compared to the previous year.”

Mr Fraser and Mr Staley are still with the company, as CEO and chief financial officer, respectively, of Anglo American’s Crop Nutrients business.

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