Tesco’s new chief executive Dave Lewis has been offered share options worth almost £2.8m at today’s prices.

The move is designed to compensate Lewis for awards he had to give up when he left Unilever in order to take up the top job at Tesco.

Lewis has been granted 1.66 million Tesco shares that are to vest annually over three years from next February. 

The shares are in addition to Lewis’ £1.25m salary, and £525,000 in lieu of this year’s cash bonus from Unilever.

Shares were calculated using the average price over the four trading days following his appointment on September 1, the Telegraph reported. At that time, Tesco shares were priced at 230.36p. However, yesterday afternoon they had slumped to 169p.

Tesco’s new finance director Alan Stewart has been handed share options which are at present worth nearly £1.5m.

Lewis and Stewart are tasked with the massive task of turning around Tesco amid the accounting crisis and falling market share.

Tesco defended the payouts, which emerged yesterday, and said it “believes that these awards fairly reflect the awards the directors forfeited on leaving their previous employment in terms of value and timescale of vesting”.