Hammerson takes axe to head office: More staff cuts expected to follow

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RON SPINNEY, who took over as chief executive of Hammerson at the beginning of May, has wielded the axe at the property company's opulent Park Lane headquarters. The shares added 8p to 394p.

Three of the company's 15 main board directors have gone in a reshuffle that has seen a 15 per cent reduction in head office staff. More cuts, probably in Hammerson's overseas operations, are likely soon.

Bruce Heyland and Tony Ball both resigned yesterday, 'in order to devote their time more fully to operational responsibilities for overseas subsidiaries'. Jon Scott, who had taken responsibility for managing Hammerson's investment properties, has left the company altogether.

It is understood that Standard Life, which holds 24 per cent of Hammerson's shares, made management changes a condition of supporting the company's recent pounds 199m rights issue.

According to Hammerson's report and accounts, eight of its directors including Mr Scott have five-year rolling contracts, in contravention of the recommendations of the Cadbury report on corporate governance.

Mr Spinney, who joined the company from Greycoat on a three-year contract, is known to be unhappy with the terms of his fellow directors' contracts, which are being reviewed.

Mr Heyland and Mr Ball will receive no compensation for losing their directorships. Mr Scott's severance terms are being discussed, although it is unlikely that he will receive his full entitlement.

In addition to the boardroom cuts, 10 other head office staff have been made redundant, reducing the number to 57.

When Mr Spinney arrived at Hammerson he embarked on a strategic review of the company, covering management structure, geographic spread and types of building in the portfolio. He also announced plans to enfranchise the company's non-voting shares.

In 1992, Hammerson recorded a 44 per cent fall in profits to pounds 31.1m and a 30 per cent fall in asset value. It cut its dividend by 40 per cent.