Halifax chief doubles his money in first year on the market

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MIKE BLACKBURN, the chief executive of the Halifax, was paid pounds 824,000 last year, including a bonus of more than pounds 300,000 for helping steer its conversion from a building society into a bank.

Halifax's annual report and accounts, posted to shareholders yesterday, shows that its eight executive directors shared in a bonus pool of pounds 1.064m linked to the pounds 20bn flotation last June, the biggest ever conversion of a mutual society.

Roger Boyes, the Halifax's finance director, and Gren Golwell, its deputy chief executive, each received flotation bonuses of pounds 178,000.

Mr Blackburn's pounds 823,930 pay packet last year represented an increase of 108 per cent on the previous year. It was made up of pounds 421,951 in basic pay and benefits, an annual bonus of pounds 93,500 and a medium term bonus of pounds 308,497.

This last element was based over a 23-month period and reflected the successful flotation and Halifax's implementation of efficiency, new technology and cost and capital allocation programmes.

His pay for the previous year, when Halifax was still mutually owned, was pounds 395,817. However, this figure did not include any medium term bonus.

Halifax said that if the bonus has been spread evenly across the two years then the change in salary would have been from pounds 577,000 to pounds 676,000 - an increase of 17 per cent.

Total board pay for 1997 was pounds 3.74m compared with pounds 1.93m in 1996. However, again, the figures are distorted by the non-payment of medium term bonus in 1996.

The Halifax flotation produced the biggest windfall of the year and lifted conversion proceeds to more than pounds 30bn, unleashing a huge wave of consumer spending. The 7.5 million Halifax members received payouts averaging pounds 2,400 each.

The conversion involved the checking of 30 million accounts and a mail of 32 million items - the largest single mailing ever undertaken by the Royal Mail. The Halifax received an estimated 9 million telephone inquiries and 300,000 letters.

Profits before tax in 1997 were pounds 1.6bn against pounds 928m the previous year although 1996 including a large one-off exceptional item. The Halifax ended the year by announcing a pounds 1bn buy back of shares.