HBOS £1m share windfall for property fund chiefs

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The Independent Online

HBOS's takeover by Lloyds TSB has released more than £1m of shares for the top two executives at a property fund spun off from HBOS at the top of the market.

Invista Real Estate Investment Man-agement, the country's biggest listed property fund manager, revealed late last week that the takeover of HBOS, which owned 55 per cent of the AIM-listed company, had triggered a change-of-control clause causing Invista share options to vest. At Friday's closing price of 34.5p, the payout in April will be worth £664,321 to Duncan Owen, the chief exec-utive, and £531,456 to his deputy, Philip Gadsden. Guy Eastaugh, the finance dir-ector, would receive shares valued at £328,532, with Mark Lawson, the comp-any secretary, getting almost £50,000.

The company's two-person remuneration committee, comprising non-executives Robin Broadhurst and Oliv-ia Dickson, decided that the takeover of HBOS was a change of control for Invista. The committee has offered to award the directors a 50 per cent bonus in shares, valued at a total of £1m at Friday's closing price, if they defer taking some of the stock until the original vesting dates in 2010 and 2011.

The company was the property investment arm of Insight, HBOS's fund management business, and was floated on the Alternative Investment Market in September 2006 at 90p a share in what was seen as a ground-breaking move. It has a rolling five-year contract to manage HBOS's property funds.

HBOS was a big lender and investor in the commercial property market. Its exposure to the sector was one of the major reasons for the collapse in confidence in the bank, which was bought by Lloyds to form Lloyds Banking Group a week ago. With bad debts rising in commercial property and concerns about the new bank's capital position, the company's shares slumped last week.

Invista said in December that it was on track to meet expectations for the full year as operating margins held up in a terrible market for commercial real estate.The company said it continued to witness a significant correction in real estate markets across Europe but its cash balance of £88m placed it well for the future.

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