MGN directors share pounds 3m share option bonus

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FOUR directors of Mirror Group Newspapers, led by David Montgomery, chief executive, are to share a pounds 3.42m bonus in share options granted to them as an incentive to turn the group around.

The directors - Mr Montgomery, John Allwood, finance director, Charles Wilson, managing director, and Murdoch MacLennan, operations director - have been granted options over 4.48 million shares.

This enables them to buy the shares at prices between 61p and 80p, though they will not be able to start buying them until October 1995. At yesterday's share price of 142p the options are worth pounds 3.42m. The largest beneficiary is Mr Montgomery who has 1.48 million options worth pounds 1.13m.

In addition Mr Wilson and two other directors, Roger Eastoe and Endell Laird, are set to pick up a further pounds 80,000 from incentives put in place when Robert Maxwell was still running the papers. The group also paid pounds 700,000 in compensation for three directors who resigned during the year - Ernest Burrington, Vic Horwood and Lawrence Guest.

The new option scheme was put in place last November when Mr Montgomery, a former editor of Today and the News of the World, was brought in by the banks that control 54 per cent of MGN's shares to reverse the fortunes of the company.

The largest chunk of the options - 2.48 million - were granted as a joining bonus at the price at which MGN's shares were then trading, 61p. The others were granted soon afterwards at 76p and 80p. The price has not dipped below 100p since mid-January, and the results announced by MGN two weeks ago gave a further impetus to the shares, which have risen every day since.

The options are disclosed in the annual report of MGN, published yesterday. The figures have been hinted at, not least in the famous column by Paul Foot which the Daily Mirror editor, David Banks, refused to run and led to Mr Foot's resignation.

MGN is set to decide in the next two weeks whether it is to buy the building it occupies in Holborn or move to one of four other locations. Talk of a move to Canary Wharf has been described as premature.