BET joins boardroom top payers

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The Independent Online


John Clark, the American chief executive of BET, received a 30 per cent pay rise to pounds 992,000 last year, and with pension payments his total package amounted to pounds 1.1m.

The accounts of the industrial services group, where Lord Tebbitt is a non-executive director, show that Mr Clark was also granted 982,000 share options last year at an exercise price of 115p a share, 12p below last night's close - though he will not be able to cash in the options until 1997. He already has another 940,000 options, though the bulk are exercisable at above the current share price.

Mr Clark was brought in four years ago at a time when BET was struggling with high debts and poor performance. He slashed costs and sold off businesses. Profits of pounds 122m, up pounds 30m, produced last year by the slimmed-down group were just over half the level in 1991.

BET's share price has languished far below its late-1980s peak of 300p. After recovering to about 150p in 1993 the price slid last year and only recently began strengthening again.

Mr Clark's pounds 1.1m includes a pounds 280,453 performance bonus and pounds 113,869 in normal pension contributions, to which was added another pounds 226,373 of catch- up pension contributions for the years 1992 to 1995. The annual report said this was to cover previously unfunded pension commitments.

Finance director Keith Payne received a total of pounds 383,424 last year, also boosted by pension payments and an pounds 80,000 bonus. The basic salary of Sir Christopher Harding, chairman, was pounds 163,000 but pension payments raised his package to pounds 208,000 from pounds 160,000.

The accounts reveal that Robert Mackenzie, a director whose contract was terminated during the year, was paid pounds 383,000 to leave.

The executive share option scheme has been toughened. Options granted after 12 December last year will only be exercised if earnings per share over three consecutive years beat the retail price index by 6 per cent.

Meanwhile, full disclosure of executives' pension packages was urged yesterday by Gordon Brown, the shadow Chancellor, in a further tightening of Labour policy on boardroom excesses.

Spotlighting the pounds 300,000-a-year pension fund package enjoyed by Cedric Brown, chief executive of British Gas, on top of his pounds 475,000 salary, Mr Brown told a parliamentary press gallery lunch: "There must be full disclosure not just of the perks and salaries but also what's increasingly another form of remuneration not known to shareholders - the scale of pension packages that are awarded."