Brokers get 10m pounds share bonanza

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The Independent Online
ABOUT 60 senior members of Smith New Court have enjoyed a pounds 10m bonanza by exercising options dating back to 1985, when the broker's shares stood at around 125p, writes John Willcock.

Smith's shares rose 3p to 337p. It doubles the holding in Smith, one of the City's leading market makers, by its directors and staff from 4.58 per cent to 9.27 per cent.

Staff exercised options on 5.3 million shares in three schemes, one from 1985 and two from 1989, and sold 1.05 million of these to cover the cost of exercising the options.

This only slightly dilutes NM Rothschild's holding in Smith of 20 per cent. The merchant bank reduced its stake from 29 to 20 per cent when Smith had a pounds 41m rights issue in June 1993.

Smith doubled its pre-tax profits last year to pounds 38.7m, while the average salary soared 28 per cent to pounds 66,555.