Directors set for pounds 4m

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The Independent Online
The two most senior directors of Fisons stand to collect almost pounds 4m if yesterday's Rhone-Poulenc bid goes ahead.

Chief executive Stuart Wallis, who has been in his post for less than a year, will receive close to pounds 2.6m. About pounds 400,000 of that will come as compensation for early termination of his contract and the rest from early payment of share options.

Finance director David Hankinson, with the company for almost 20 months, will be able to exercise share options valued at pounds 1.3m, making a profit of pounds 585,000 at the offer price.

He will also receive his third payoff in as many years.

Mr Hankinson received pounds 352,000 after leaving Lucas in March 1992 and walked into a new job at Ranks Hovis McDougall on a pounds 160,000 contract, just days before it became the subject of a bid from Tomkins, and left in 1993 with a payoff thought to have been around pounds 400,000.

Meanwhile Mr Wallis, who joined Fisons last September, was granted options over 888,000 shares at 126p in October. He had to bite his nails as the shares slumped to a low of 107p at the beginning of this year, but almost immediately the shares started to climb as Mr Wallis unfolded his radical plans for restructuring the group and since then the price has never looked back. At the Rhone-Poulenc Rorer offer price of 240p a share, he now stands to make a profit of just over pounds 1m on the exercise of the options.

This would come as a substantial dollop of cream on top of a payoff likely to be worth at least one-and-a-half times his salary of pounds 280,000 last year.

It is a tidy sum for less than a year's work, even if Mr Wallis has won plaudits from the City for his radical, even revolutionary, approach to Fisons' problems by selling off peripheral activities, including the research and development operations seen in the industry as the heart of a pharmaceutical company's activities.

It is a role which is a far cry from his origins in a Welsh village. The son of a surveyor, he contracted polio at the age of nine, but early on showed his determination by fighting back to a full recovery. After qualifying as one of the youngest chartered accountants at the age of 21, he joined Chrysler.

From there he built a reputation as a trouble-shooter at firms including the business services group Hestair and Octopus Publishing.

He spent six years at Bowater, the paper and packaging group now called Rexam. That time was marked by a near tenfold increase in the company's market capitalisation.