Grid delays new perks plan

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The Independent Online
National Grid has shelved plans for a new long-term incentive scheme for senior executives until after the Greenbury committee on executive pay reports in the summer, David Jefferies, the power transmission company's chairman, said yesterday.

Mr Jeffery's cash and paper profits from exercising share options and the potential gains from unexercised options currently amount to around pounds 1m.

He revealed the decision to delay a scheme 10 days after being fiercely criticised by Gordon Brown, the shadow chancellor, for making a profit of more than pounds 350,000 by cashing in 66,000 share options last September, a year ahead of the company's expected pounds 3.5bn flotation.

It emerged that he exercised a further 88,000 options in September for a paper profit currently running at about pounds 375,000, but has kept these shares and will receive the 40.4p a share dividend on them. He has another 75, 514 options not yet exercised which at current prices would yield a paper profit exceeding pounds 300,000 - though directors will not exercise more options until after the float.

Mr Jefferies also earned pounds 328,000 last year, down pounds 21,000 from the year before because pension contributions were dropped. He was reporting operating profit 7.6 per cent higher at pounds 678m, but disappointed the City with a dividend increase of only 8.7 per cent.

This hit shares in the regional electricity companies, which own National Grid, whose payout normally accounts for about a quarter of their own dividends. Mr Jefferies said National Grid cut costs by 7.2 per cent. Half of this was achieved by slashing staffing from 5,032 to 4,500. .