British Airways Chairman, Lord Marshall, has welcomed the Chancellor`s employee share ownership incentive in today`s Budget, as an important boost to raising Britain`s level of business competitiveness.
For British Airways - which operates the world`s largest employee share purchase scheme - the initiative would help speed up plans to achieve 10 per cent ownership of the company by its employees.
“This is excellent news for UK companies and all who work for them. The Chancellor, Gordon Brown, has come up with a highly-progressive way to give an important boost to the work of raising this country`s level of business competitiveness,” said Lord Marshall.
British Airways was, he said, “delighted” to have been one of the companies invited to participate in the consultation which paved the way for the new policy.
“When employees are able to own shares in their companies, they are clearly more interested in the way the business works and more committed to its long-term success. At the same time, management becomes accountable to its people, in their capacity as shareholders, as well as employees. Employee share ownership creates a new set of competitive dynamics appropriate to the modern era of open markets and open relationships in the workplace,” he added.
Lord Marshall said that employee ownership had been a cornerstone of the British Airways privatisation process, completed successfully in 1987.
“Currently, 88 per cent of employees collectively own four per cent of British Airways. Our Chief Executive, Bob Ayling, is committed to move the ownership level up to ten per cent. The Government`s attractive new incentive, coupled with existing schemes, should enable us to achieve this far more quickly and effectively than otherwise possible,” he stated.
The latest British Airways Share Save Scheme, launched in January 1998, invited 60,000 employees in 81 countries to acquire shares at a pre-determined price, through a three-year savings programme. It is the biggest scheme of its kind in the world and won British Airways the 1998 Pro-Share Award.