Daily Mail group executives could share £60m under new bonus scheme

The top executives at the owner of the Daily Mail took home £24m this year – and will share a £60m pot under a new scheme if they grow the business over the next 12 years.

Four executives at Daily Mail & General Trust (DMGT) – including Jonathan Harmsworth (Lord Rothermere), who chairs and controls the company, and the chief executive, Paul Zwillenberg – took home almost double the £13m in pay, bonuses and long-term incentive plan (LTIP) awards they received last year.

Like many businesses, the DMGT endured a torrid year because of the Covid pandemic. Group pre-tax profits fell 36% to £72m in the financial year to the end of September.

Top executives benefited from £17m in LTIP awards that have vested following DMGT making hundreds of millions from the sale of its stake in online property business Zoopla and Euromoney several years ago. Rothermere and Zwillenberg each took home almost £7m in total pay this year.

Rothermere, who is also the chair of the remuneration committee, also announced a new scheme in the company’s annual report published on Wednesday.

Under the scheme, which also includes DMGT’s financial chief, Tim Collier, and Kevin Beatty, who runs the division that includes the Mail, Metro and i, the top executives could receive £56.2m if they continue to deliver until 2031.

“The committee recognises that DMGT has a particularly long-term approach to shareholder value creation and has therefore designed a bespoke long-term incentive plan for executive directors,” Rothermere said. “The executive directors will therefore be strongly incentivised to deliver value creation.”

Under the scheme, comprised of three 10-year periods that will vest between 2029 and 2031, Rothermere will take home £17.5m and Zwillenberg £15.8m at the end of the period.

The company says the scheme, which is worked out on the basis of 2,000% of their base salaries, is far less generous than maximum potential payouts under its LTIP schemes.

The long-term pot comes on top of other incentive schemes that are yet to vest and the executives will still receive millions of pounds in bonuses annually. Last year, top executive bonus payouts totalled £3m.

In November, the company increased its dividend by 1% despite the dire year, saying it reflected “our long-term perspective and our confidence in the future”.