Fankhauser refuses to pay back bonus to help former staff
Published on Tuesday, October 15, 2019
Former Thomas Cook chief executive Peter Fankhauser refused to bow to pressure to give back some of his bonus when he was grilled by MPs today.
Giving evidence about Thomas Cook’s failure to the Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy Committee this morning, Fankhauser repeated many times that he was ‘deeply sorry’ for failing to save the company.
But he did not agree with Rachel Reeves MP, who is leading the inquiry, that his apologies would ‘ring more true’ if he agreed to give some of his bonus back.
Under so-called clawback provisions, Fankhauser’s 2017 bonus of £558,000 could be paid back and used to help pay redundancy to former staff and go towards the cost of the repatriation.
When pushed on whether he would agree to that, Fankhauser said: “I fully understand where you are coming from, and I fully understand the sentiment in the public and of some of our colleagues. However, what I can say to that is that I worked tirelessly for the success of this company and I am deeply sorry that I was not able to rescue the deal but there were multiple parties which had to commit to the deal which did not succeed.”
When pressed again, he added: “In my reflection I will consider what is right but I am not going to decide that today.”
He told MPs he had become chief executive in 2014 fully aware of the financial challenges faced by the group and had tried to ‘tackle the challenge’ by transforming Thomas Cook from an ‘old-fashioned’ tour operator to a modern one.
But he said his efforts were constrained by £1.2 billion of refinancing and debt.
“If we could have even halved that amount we could have moved at a much faster pace,” he said, adding that external events had also taken their toll.
He defended his bonuses, saying 30% was paid in shares which were now worthless.
“I never sold one share, as I was believing in the success of the company,” he added.
He also pointed out that he had not been paid a bonus in 2018 or 2019.