BT chief's pay doubles to pounds 2.5m

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SIR PETER Bonfield, the chief executive of British Telecom, saw his pay more than double last year to pounds 2.5m while his opposite number at Cable & Wireless, Graham Wallace, is in line for a pounds 6m package over the next three years.

BT's annual report, published yesterday, shows that Sir Peter's pay rose from pounds 1.1m in 1997 to pounds 2.529m.

Much of the gain - pounds 1.15m - came in deferred bonuses payable in shares in three years' time, provided Sir Peter remains with BT.

The remaining pounds 1.379m comprised pounds 617,000 in salary and a further pounds 725,000 in special bonuses, including pounds 150,000 for his contribution to BT's pounds 4.3bn ($7bn) sale of its 20 per cent interest in MCI to WorldCom, as well as the pact with AT&T to form a global venture.

Meanwhile, C&W has rejigged its remuneration scheme to increase the rewards available to its top 80 executives.

Bonuses available under its short-term incentive plan have been raised from 60 per cent to 75 per cent of salary, while its long-term performance plan will potentially pay out 100 per cent of salary compared with 60 per cent before.

In addition to his pounds 700,000 salary, Mr Wallace is in line for another pounds 700,000 under the long-term scheme and pounds 525,000 under the annual bonus scheme.

In a letter to shareholders, Sir Ralph Robins, chairman of C&W, defended the new arrangements, saying the performance targets were tough and C&W had to bring rewards for top executives more into line with its global competitors, particularly in the US.

Meanwhile, BT largely ruled out getting involved in the mega-merger craze that has rolled through the telecoms industry in Europe and the US.

Alfred Mockett, chief executive of BT Worldwide, its global business unit, said the telecoms giant will continue to pursue new ventures, initially targeting multi-national clients, while pursuing more mass market opportunities through wireless applications and pressuring for access to local networks.