Central chiefs took options before bid

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FIVE directors of Central Independent Television were awarded share options, now worth nearly pounds 750,000, a month before the widely expected pounds 758m agreed bid by Carlton was announced two weeks ago, writes Jason Nisse.

Three of the directors - Leslie Hill, chairman and chief executive, Andy Allan, managing director, and Alan Parkhurst, personnel director - also agreed new three-year contracts just three days before Carlton's offer was made. The contracts for Mr Hill, who is paid pounds 210,000 a year, and Mr Allan, who receives pounds 180,000 a year, specify a notice period of 24 months.

Two packages of options were granted on 28 October and 3 November this year, covering more than 120,000 shares. These entitle the directors to buy shares at between pounds 16.64 and pounds 20.85 at future dates starting in October 1996.

However, the bid - which has pushed Central shares up to pounds 27.55 each - locks in the value of the options. Yesterday Central was unable to say whether the directors would still have to wait to take advantage of the windfall or whether the bid would trigger the options now.

Yorkshire-Tyne Tees Television admitted yesterday it was in merger talks with London Weekend Television, writes John Murray.

Ward Thomas, YTTV's chairman, said the two companies had held exploratory talks - 'but everybody in ITV is talking to everybody at the moment'. LWT is trying to fend off a pounds 600m hostile bid from Granada Group.