Late last Thursday Trinity Mirror’s CEO Sly Bailey announced that she would resign, facing the growing prospect of a shareholder rebellion over the size of her pay package, The Telegraph reports.
Since Bailey took control of Trinity Mirror in 2003, she has taken home £14m in salary and bonuses, writes The Telegraph. In the same period, the publisher of the Daily and Sunday Mirror, The Daily Record, The People and a string of UK regional papers, has seen its share price drop by 90%. The Telegraph adds that Trinity Mirror’s pre-tax profits fell by 40% to £74m in 2011. Yet despite this drop, Press Gazette reports that during the past year Bailey was paid a total £1.3m in salary, shares and pension contributions, down from total of £1.7m in 2010.
The on-going controversy about the size of Bailey’s pay came to a head on Thursday, when major shareholders lobbied the company’s board to reduce her pay, as the Financial Times reported. According to the paper, shareholders owning up to a quarter of the group had threatened to vote against Bailey’s pay package and against key members of the board at the company’s annual general meeting, due to take place this week.
The FT writes that Trinity Mirror’s board had been negotiating to reduce Bailey’s pay over the past few weeks, but talks fell apart “when it became clear that Ms Bailey was unhappy with any real changes proposed to her pay.” The Independent writes that Bailey will be given a farewell package worth £1m. Trinity Mirror’s non-executive director David Grigson, who is due to take over as chairman of the board this summer, has been charged with finding Bailey’s replacement.
As she steps down, The Guardian reported that Bailey had said in a statement “I feel the time has come to hand over to someone else to take up the challenge and for me to seek new challenges and opportunities elsewhere." The paper also notes that she sent an email to staff, in which she promised to visit all of the group’s businesses to say goodbye. The Guardian suggests, however, that this message was not taken particularly seriously by the newsrooms staff at the Daily and Sunday Mirror, who greeted it with “guffaws and whoops of laughter."
According to The Guardian, Bailey’s departure has led to speculation that Trinity Mirror may consider selling of some of its regional properties. In an editorial published yesterday, the head of media and technology at The Guardian Dan Sabbagh offers a damning review of Bailey’s leadership, saying that she squeezed the company for profits, did not focus on innovation, neglected to invest in digital, and failed to take advantage of the demise of the News of the World to boost the profile of her group’s Sunday papers. Sabbagh suggests that Trinity Mirror must now change its direction by focusing on the specific challenges facing regional newspapers and by boosting its digital properties.