AEA neuters 'fat cats'

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The Independent Online
AEA Technology, the science and contracting arm of the state-owned Atomic Energy Authority, has come up with a novel way of defusing the row about "fat cat" salaries - free bonus shares for all employees distributed on an equal basis.

Announcing details of a privatisation that should net the Treasury about pounds 200m, AEA's chairman, Sir Anthony Cleaver, yesterday pledged executives would receive no special treatment in the form of share options.

Instead, about 5 per cent of profits each year will be used to buy shares for all 3,500 staff. "There are no special schemes for directors," Sir Anthony said. "Everything is available to everybody. There are no plans for share options and there are no long-term incentive plans."

However, he did not rule out introducing so-called L-Tips at a later stage. "Obviously we will look at that in the fullness of time," he added.

The sale of AEA Technology, which is a spin-off from the Atomic Energy Authority, is the last big privatisation in the lifetime of this Parliament.

The Government is selling 100 per cent of the company, but is keeping a "golden share" that would veto any takeover attempt for three years.

AEA Technology, which specialises in offering safety, engineering, consultancy and computer services to the nuclear industry in the UK. and overseas, reported operating profit of pounds 19.8m in the year to 32 March on sales of pounds 253.3m.

The placing is due to commence on 25 September.