Existing shareholders will retain at least a 90 per cent stake in the new, highly leveraged company, giving them a chance to share in any upside."There are underperforming companies in the UK that are being stalked by private-equity firms," Sir Gerry said. Now he wants to use his expertise on the stock market. Once Sir Gerry has identified his first target, his new company, Raphoe Management, will reverse itself into the existing stock market quote, offering a mixture of cash and paper in return for management control. The former Granada boss has already made a name for himself as the saviour of delinquent companies in the BBC television show I'll Show Them Who's Boss. Sir Gerry Robinson, the self-styled corporate "Mr Fix-it", is to turn his remedial eye to underperforming quoted companies via a new investment vehicle that will attempt to work the magic of private equity in the public arena. Passengers are supposed to be able to book tickets 12 weeks prior to the day of travel.Meurig William, another representative of the public, said that at times during the operating year, passengers were given only three days' notice of which trains would be running.Jim Cornell, the chairman of the remuneration committee, defended the bonuses, arguing that directors had drawn up a programme to deal with the problem and that the target was now being met.. It is not excessive," he added.Mr McAllister pointed out that the organisation had hit or exceeded most of its targets for efficiency, value for money and punctuality. His views carried the day at the meeting, with a 58-15 vote against the motion, calling on directors to forgo 50 per cent of their bonuses as a gesture of goodwill.The motion expressed concern that management had failed to meet the condition of its licence which commits the organisation to planning maintenance work months ahead.
The government and the Strategic Rail Authority insisted that a large proportion of Network Rail directors' remuneration should be in the form of bonuses "All major quoted companies are swinging in this direction If anything they are paid too little. The organisation relies on money from taxpayers and from passengers, many of whom have no choice but to use trains. If Network Rail wants more money, it increases access charges to train operating companies which either put up fares or go cap in hand to the Government.''Speaking after the meeting, however, Mr McAllister said the organisation had taken over a "pretty disastrous'' situation after the demise of the privatised infrastructure company Railtrack. Directors of quoted business are paid for making profits, Network Rail directors do not make profit. The other top executives, the finance director Ron Henderson and the projects and engineering director Peter Henderson, each get a bonus of £179,652 on top of their £323,000 salaries.Gerry Doherty, who represents the clerical rail union TSSA at Network Rail said: "It's nonsense to compare their remuneration with that of directors at [FTSE 100] companies.
Ms Prowse said: "Perhaps it's OK to accept knighthoods, peerages and even beatification, but it is not acceptable for Network Rail directors to take this size of bonus.''Network Rail's chief executive, John Armitt, will receive a £269,757 bonus on top of his £485,000 salary, his deputy Iain Coucher will get £240,834 in addition to his £433,000 basic pay. Mark Thompson, the corporation's director general, recently waived his bonus and a new rule is being introduced limiting the maximum bonus for BBC directors to 10 per cent of salary rather than 30 per cent. At Network Rail's annual meeting in Birmingham yesterday, however, his comparison with large quoted companies was denounced as "codswallop'' by one of the organisation's members while others pointed out that nearly one in five trains was still running late. Hazel Prowse, who represents the public at Network Rail, told the meeting that directors should compare themselves with the BBC, which was also a public service. Referring to a £900,000 lump sum shared by four executive directors, Mr McAllister said they were paid less than the average director of FTSE 350 companies and nowhere near board members at the top 100 firms. Network Rail's chairman Ian McAllister yesterday provoked further controversy over his senior colleagues bonuses when he declared that they were not paid enough.