Insurrection Brewing At Nominet As Former BBC Chair Joins Bid To Oust Board: London’s Telegraph

London’s Sunday Telegraph reported of an insurrection brewing at Nominet, the .uk registry, with a former chair of the BBC “backing a bid to oust nearly half of the board of Nominet … amid anger over rising pay and falling contributions to good causes.”

According to the Sunday Telegraph report yesterday, Sir Michael Lyons, BBC Chair from 2007 to 2011, “is bidding to replace Nominet’s current chairman Mark Wood in an extraordinary general meeting called by members of the company. They will also seek to vote off the 11-seat board the senior independent director, chief executive Russell Haworth, chief financial officer and executive in charge of distributing profits for the public benefit.”

“The demand to call an EGM within 28 days is due to be delivered to Nominet on Monday on behalf of a group of members representing more than 5pc of the total votes.”

The Telegraph says there are 2,500 Nominet members with profits reinvested in technology and distributed for the public benefit. Many of these projects are outlined in blog posts on the company website.

“However, since Mr Haworth took charge in 2015, Nominet’s contributions to good causes have fallen sharply. In the five years up to his appointment they totalled £26m. Since 2016, the total is less than £10m. In the meantime, pay for Nominet’s three executive board members has more than doubled from a total of less than £800,000 in 2015 to £1.7m last year. It meant that for the first time the overall board pay of £2m was greater than the public benefit contribution of £1.9m. Nominet said that excluding bonus accruals executive pay had risen 8pc per year to reflect tough competition for technology talent and that its awards are comparable to listed companies of similar size in the sector.”

“Nominet has also spent millions on acquisitions in an attempt to diversify its income, although its core domain names business still accounts for all its profits, which fell last year. The company said it expects the investments in areas including cybersecurity to pay off in the future.

“Simon Blackler, the Nominet member organising the action against the board, said: ‘The directors have decided to pour money into unnecessary diversification targets and their own pockets, instead of public benefit donations, when the public most needs assistance.’”

Sir Michael is experienced in the workings of Nominet “having conducted a review of its governance in 2015.” The Telegraph even notes Nominet’s “long history of clashes with members and controversy over its public benefit work. This weekend Nominet warned officials it faces an attempt to unseat its leadership.”

“Mr Wood said he was ‘surprised’ Sir Michael was involved in the initiative, which he said is ‘not responsible’ as it threatens to destabilise Nominet and ongoing work securing the NHS. He said the current board is ‘very strong’ and Nominet is ‘extremely well managed.

To read the full report in London’s Sunday Telegraph (registration may be required), click here.

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