Grey quits Tadpole with pounds 110,000 pay-off

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The Independent Online
George Grey, the founder of troubled notebook computer maker Tadpole Technology, resigned yesterday as chief executive with a pay-off expected to be around pounds 110,000. His departure comes just over a year after the ousting of Geoff Burr, head of Tadpole's US operations, who received pounds 116,000 to ease his search for a new occupation.

Mr Grey has been replaced by the 50-year-old Bernard Hulme, veteran of British computer maker ICL and most recently in charge of the international business of California-based Santa Cruz Operations, a leader in the US software market for the UNIX operating system.

News of the management changes pleased the stock market, which fell out of love with Tadpole after a series of profit warnings and mounting losses caused the share price to plunge last year. Tadpole's shares rose 3p to 61p yesterday, still some way off the 440p they hit in November 1994.

Mr Grey, who founded the company in 1984 and still owns around 2.9 per cent of the shares, came under pressure to resign last year after losses mounted and the Stock Exchange ordered an investigation into dealings in the shares. He was paid pounds 104,000, including his pension in 1995-96. His pay-off will be linked to his salary, although he will also receive around nine months' pay for the current year.

He was seen as the wrong man to carry the company forward, according to Robert Booth, finance director. "Tadpole has always been regarded as an amazing company. We have had a number of industry firsts for our technology, but we never had the sales and marketing expertise to market the products." There had been no pressure from institutional shareholders. "We came to our own conclusion. It has been obvious for some time that our problems lay in the marketing area."

Recent difficulties "were a symptom of the lack of strategic and market expertise", Mr Booth said, adding that Mr Hulme would fill that gap.

However, Mr Booth added that it was a great tribute to Mr Grey that he had taken the company so far, with annual turnover of nearly pounds 25m.

The group was badly hit by IBM's decision last year to withdraw its notebook computer designed by Tadpole and replace it with its own products. Mr Grey's departure comes just as the group was having some success in wrestling with its problems. Losses mounted from pounds 1.29m to pounds 9.95m last year, but interim results in May showed losses cut from pounds 5.94m to pounds 1.66m.

The group has said it will announce new business and products from a 1994 partnership with Digital Equipment of the US and expects to cut its losses in the second half. Brokers forecast a deficit for the year to September of pounds 2.8m-pounds 3.2m.