Amstrad special dividend pays Sugar a sweet £10m

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Sir Alan Sugar, star of TV's The Apprentice programme, is to collect £10m from his Amstrad consumer electronics company, after the company announced a special dividend pay-out.

The move came despite a warning from the listed business about its expected performance this year.

Amstrad, which makes set-top boxes for televisions, is to distribute £30m to investors from its cash pile. Sir Alan, founder and chairman, holds a 28 per cent stake, netting him £8.4m from the special dividend. He will also get £1.6m from the company regular annual dividend of 7.0p a share.

Sir Alan, already reckoned to be worth some £800m, said: "The group has been generating significant levels of cash over the last few years. The cash is now at a level where the board feels it appropriate to recommend to shareholders the return, by way of dividend, of £30m."

Amstrad's financial results, released yesterday, showed sales fell by £9.8m to £91.7m, while pre-tax profits edged up by £600,000 to £20.2m. The company said that the volume of set-top box sales was steady but the prices they fetched slipped, because more basic-specification units were sold and because of "the inevitable downward pressure on selling prices of more mature products".

Commenting on the current financial year, Sir Alan warned that the company would be hit by a temporary downturn as a result of delays in the development of a new product, a box for "high definition" TVs. In the meantime, sales of the old-style boxes will continue to fall.

Sir Alan said: "We expect demand to decline on the current models in the current year. As such, shareholders should not expect the same level of result as that which we have just reported."