The chief executive of housebuilder Persimmon has said he never wanted his £110m bonus and that he has decided to give a “substantial” amount of the windfall away through a charitable trust.
But Jeff Fairburn declined to say how much he would donate or which charities would receive the money.
Fairburn said the uncapped bonus scheme was drawn up before he became chief executive in 2013 and he regretted that his company’s performance had been overshadowed by uproar over the payout.
He said he decided some time ago to give some of his bonus away but that he had wanted to take an “old-fashioned approach” and keep the decision private.
“It’s now clear that this belief was misplaced and so I am making my plans public and recognise that I should have done so sooner. I am setting up a private charitable trust which I plan to use to benefit wider society over a sustained period of time by supporting, in a very meaningful way, my chosen charities.
“I would like to make it clear that I did not seek these levels of award nor do I consider it right to keep them entirely for myself. Once it became apparent that our outperformance would lead to a very significant award for me, I made plans to use a substantial proportion of the total to support the charities that are particularly important to me and my family.”
Fairburn’s announcement follows mounting uproar over the record-breaking bonus plan, with Persimmon accused of benefiting from the taxpayer-backed help-to-buy scheme.
There has been widespread criticism from corporate governance groups, politicians and the boss of rival housebuilder Redrow, Steve Morgan, who described Fairburn’s bonus as “very, very wrong”.
Persimmon’s chairman and senior independent director have quit the board over the scheme, set up in 2012, which will hand more than £500m to 140 senior staff. Fairburn has collected £50m of shares and will qualify for another £60m this year.
Last month Fairburn said he and his team had worked hard to qualify for the bonuses, which are linked to Persimmon’s share price.