HTV pays pounds 200,000 in perks: Relocation expenses contrast with plunge into losses and pay freeze

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The Independent Online
TWO directors of HTV Group shared perks of more than pounds 205,000 on top of their normal salaries in a year when the television company plunged into losses, passed the dividend and imposed a pay freeze on ordinary staff.

Charles Romaine, chief executive, and Chris Rowlands, finance director, received the payments in compensation for losses and costs associated with moving house, which they had to do under their terms of employment.

According to the 1992 annual report Mr Romaine received a payment of pounds 65,440 plus removal and relocation costs of pounds 20,969 and loan interest costs of pounds 32,275. These were on top of his salary of pounds 125,458 and a pension payment of pounds 20,991.

The main payment was to compensate him for the plunging value of his home in Wokingham, which he was obliged to leave after being appointed chief executive in January 1991, but was unable to sell.

The relocation payment included paying for some curtains, carpets and minor modifications to his new home at Chew Magna, near Bristol. The interest payment was to pay the bill on the bridging loan necessary before his old home was finally sold.

Mr Rowlands received pounds 78,815 compensation for loss of capital value plus relocation costs of pounds 8,053 as a result of his move from the Midlands to the Bristol area.

Louis Sherwood, chairman of HTV and head of the directors' remuneration committee, said: 'I regard these as perfectly normal amounts for the relocation of key executives.'

HTV handed the two properties over to a relocation company, but continued to take the exposure on its own balance sheet. The total cost of house depreciation plus the relocation company fees was more than pounds 165,000.

The annual report also discloses that pounds 388,000 was paid to former directors for loss of office. This is understood to comprise a pounds 200,000 payment to Alan Burton, the former finance director, and pounds 188,000 to Emry Daniel, former managing director of HTV Wales.

HTV, the struggling Channel 3 broadcaster for Wales and the West Country, announced a pounds 10m cost-cutting campaign last year in an attempt to finance its pounds 20.5m franchise bid. More than 150 jobs were axed in the television company.

The annual report also shows that last month Mr Romaine, Mr Rowlands and two other directors were issued HTV share options at a strike price of 38p a share.

The group discloses under contingent liabilities that it is being sued for unquantified damages for alleged breach of contract and alleged defamation in relation to the film production She Wolf of London.

Mr Sherwood and two unidentified directors are waiving emoluments of pounds 35,250 in aggregate for the year to December 1993.

(Photographs omitted)