AEA gives 'no fat cats' pledge

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AEA Technology, the science and contracting arm of the state-owned Atomic Energy Authority, yesterday gave a "cast-iron guarantee" that its pounds 200m privatisation will involve "no fat-cattery", despite the fact that its chief executive recently netted pounds 4m from the rail sell-off.

Peter Watson is also chairman of Porterbrook, the train leasing group taken over by Stagecoach last month for pounds 825m. Porterbrook's employees together made pounds 84m in the deal, with Mr Watson alone earning pounds 4m on his 25,000 shares.

AEA publishes its flotation prospectus today, which will be aimed at institutions and sophisticated private investors, the so-called "Jeremys" rather than "Sids". The document will give details of the business, which has a technical and advisory role in the decommissioning of nuclear power stations, but has increasingly diversified into non-nuclear work such as project management.

The prospectus will not put a market value on the company, though it is likely to be in the region of pounds 200m.

It will be a distinctly low-key privatisation with none of the advertising associated with bigger sell-offs. Individual share applications must be made through a broker, with the minimum investment expected to be substantially greater than in the sell-off of Railtrack or British Energy. Most shares are expected to go to City institutions.

Company sources played down any suggestion that the flotation could bring substantial windfall gains for directors.