Hoffman is ousted from Thames

Water turmoil: Second top-level departure in less than a week as takeover speculation in the industry reaches fever pitch

Michael Hoffman, chief executive of Thames Water has been ousted from the company with a payoff of up to pounds 500,000. His departure coincides with Thames's decision to withdraw from loss-making contracting operations at a cost to the company of pounds 95m.

This is the second high profile departure in the water industry in less than a week. Last Friday saw 52-year old Trevor Newton - the managing director of Yorkshire Water who shot to notoriety for not bathing during the drought - take early retirement.

Thames said that the strategic changes announced yesterday would allow the company to focus on its core utility business in the UK and on international projects involving building and operating water systems. Sir Robert Clarke, chairman, said: "We feel confident we can grasp the nettle and get rid of things that have not been doing well. We will continue to improve the core businesses and we will prove that we can make decent money from our major projects overseas."

The shake-out at the company will involve Sir Robert taking on an executive role while Bill Alexander, managing director of the core UK utility, takes on responsibility for the entire group.

Sir Robert said he could not comment on the payoff for Mr Hoffman, who was on a two-year rolling contract with a salary of pounds 250,000. He said it would be wrong to assume a figure of pounds 500,000 but that it has not yet been discussed.

City analysts were disappointed that a new chief executive has not been brought in from outside the company. There was also speculation that Thames might launch a share buyback now that it is largely pulling out of the problematic non-core businesses. One analyst said: "They have been clearing the decks of the non-core garbage and someone had to fall on his sword to pay for the ill-fated diversifications."

Mr Hoffman's demise comes only a week after Yorkshire Water, which has been heavily criticised for its handling of last year's drought crisis, said its managing director, Trevor Newton, would retire at the end of May. Thames and Yorkshire are two of only four large water and sewage companies which have not been taken over or are not involved in bid attempts.

Shares in Thames Water rose by 17p to pounds 5.75 on increased speculation that the company might become a bid target and on hopes of a move to return value to shareholders.

Thames will take an exceptional charge of pounds 65m in the year to March and said that a further pounds 30m of goodwill written off to reserves on acquisition will be charged back through the profit and loss account. The operations to be disposed of have hit profits in the 12 months to 31 March by pounds 26m.

Thames forecast an increase in profit before tax and exceptional items in the year to March of about 6 per cent on the 1994/95 level of pounds 304m. The company said that the 12 per cent increase in dividends at half time is expected to be maintained for the full year.

The operations to be sold include Reading-based Portals Water Treatment, which employs 250, Utag in Germany and Permutit in Egypt. Waste Solutions in the US will be closed.

Comment, page 17

News
The Banksy image in Folkestone before it was vandalised
people
Life and Style
tech

Sales of the tablet are set to fall again, say analysts

Sport
football West Brom vs Man Utd match report: Blind grabs point, but away form a problem for Van Gaal
Arts and Entertainment
Gotham is coming to UK shores this autumn
tvGotham, episode 2, review
PROMOTED VIDEO
News
i100
Arts and Entertainment
Bloom Time: Mira Sorvino
tvMira Sorvino on leaving movie roles for 'The Intruders'
News
First woman: Valentina Tereshkova
peopleNASA guinea pig Kate Greene thinks it might fly
News
Brian Harvey turned up at Downing Street today demanding to speak to the Prime Minister
news

Met Police confirm there was a 'minor disturbance' and that no-one was arrested

Arts and Entertainment
George Lucas poses with a group of Star Wars-inspired Disney characters at Disney's Hollywood Studios in 2010
films

George Lucas criticises the major Hollywood film studios

Voices
Chris Grayling, Justice Secretary: 'There are pressures which we are facing but there is not a crisis'
voices

Does Chris Grayling realise what a vague concept he is dealing with?

News
ebooksAn unforgettable anthology of contemporary reportage
Life and Style
A street vendor in Mexico City sells Dorilocos, which are topped with carrot, jimaca, cucumber, peanuts, pork rinds, spices and hot sauce
food + drink

Trend which requires crisps, a fork and a strong stomach is sweeping Mexico's streets

Life and Style
The charity Sands reports that 11 babies are stillborn everyday in the UK
lifeEleven babies are stillborn every day in the UK, yet no one speaks about this silent tragedy
News
Blackpool is expected to become one of the first places to introduce the Government’s controversial new Public Space Protection Orders (PSPOs)
news

Parties threaten resort's image as a family destination

Life and Style
Northern soul mecca the Wigan Casino
fashionGone are the punks, casuals, new romantics, ravers, skaters, crusties. Now all kids look the same
Life and Style
gaming

I Am Bread could actually be a challenging and nuanced title

Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs Money & Business

Customer Service Executive / Inbound Customer Service Agent

£18 - 23k + Benefits: Guru Careers: We are seeking a Customer Service Executiv...

ASP.NET Web Developer / .NET Developer

£60 - 65k + Benefits: Guru Careers: We are seeking a ASP.NET Web Developer / ....

Operational Risk Manager - Asset Management

£60,000 - £80,000: Saxton Leigh: Our client is an leading Asset Manager based...

Project Coordinator - 12 month contract

£27000 - £32000 Per Annum: Clearwater People Solutions Ltd: Our large charity ...

Day In a Page

Two super-sized ships have cruised into British waters, but how big can these behemoths get?

Super-sized ships: How big can they get?

Two of the largest vessels in the world cruised into UK waters last week
British doctors on brink of 'cure' for paralysis with spinal cord treatment

British doctors on brink of cure for paralysis

Sufferers can now be offered the possibility of cure thanks to a revolutionary implant of regenerative cells
Ranked seventh in world’s best tourist cities - not London, or Edinburgh, but Salisbury

Salisbury ranked seventh in world’s best tourist cities

The city is home to one of the four surviving copies of the Magna Carta, along with the world’s oldest mechanical clock
Let's talk about loss

We need to talk about loss

Secrecy and silence surround stillbirth
Will there be an all-female mission to Mars?

Will there be an all-female mission to Mars?

Women may be better suited to space travel than men are
Oscar Pistorius sentencing: The athlete's wealth and notoriety have provoked a long overdue debate on South African prisons

'They poured water on, then electrified me...'

If Oscar Pistorius is sent to jail, his experience will not be that of other inmates
James Wharton: The former Guard now fighting discrimination against gay soldiers

The former Guard now fighting discrimination against gay soldiers

Life after the Army has brought new battles for the LGBT activist James Wharton
Ebola in the US: Panic over the virus threatens to infect President Obama's midterms

Panic over Ebola threatens to infect the midterms

Just one person has died, yet November's elections may be affected by what Republicans call 'Obama's Katrina', says Rupert Cornwell
Premier League coaches join the RSC to swap the tricks of their trades

Darling, you were fabulous! But offside...

Premier League coaches are joining the RSC to learn acting skills, and in turn they will teach its actors to play football. Nick Clark finds out why
How to dress with authority: Kirsty Wark and Camila Batmanghelidjh discuss the changing role of fashion in women's workwear

How to dress with authority

Kirsty Wark and Camila Batmanghelidjh discuss the changing role of fashion in women's workwear
New book on Joy Division's Ian Curtis sheds new light on the life of the late singer

New book on Ian Curtis sheds fresh light on the life of the late singer

'Joy Division were making art... Ian was for real' says author Jon Savage
Sean Harris: A rare interview with British acting's secret weapon

Sean Harris: A rare interview with British acting's secret weapon

The Bafta-winner talks Hollywood, being branded a psycho, and how Barbra Streisand is his true inspiration
Tim Minchin, interview: The musician, comedian and world's favourite ginger is on scorching form

Tim Minchin interview

For a no-holds-barred comedian who is scathing about woolly thinking and oppressive religiosity, he is surprisingly gentle in person
Boris Johnson's boozing won't win the puritan vote

Boris's boozing won't win the puritan vote

Many of us Brits still disapprove of conspicuous consumption – it's the way we were raised, says DJ Taylor
Ash frontman Tim Wheeler reveals how he came to terms with his father's dementia

Tim Wheeler: Alzheimer's, memories and my dad

Wheeler's dad suffered from Alzheimer's for three years. When he died, there was only one way the Ash frontman knew how to respond: with a heartfelt solo album