Helical Bar chief in line for £12m dividend bonanza

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The managing director of the property company Helical Bar is to take home more than £12m this Christmas, after announcing plans yesterday to return more than £4 a share of surplus capital to investors.

Mike Slade, who owns more than 3 million shares in the company, has already cashed in more than £250,000 of his equity in Helical Bar this year, after he took up share options worth some £1.3m in August. Including his £1.5m salary and bonus, his total income is set to top more than £14m for 2004.

The group finance director, Nigel McNair Scott, will make some £2.5m from the £4 a share special dividend, which is being paid following the group's £67.6m sale of Aycliffe and Peterlee Industrial estates.

Mr Slade was unavailable to comment yesterday on how he intends to spend his latest windfall, after going home early with a cold. Mr McNair Scott said that he could not speak for his colleagues, but quipped that he would be spending his money on "cigarettes, whisky and wild, wild women".

One potential target for Mr Slade's millions is an addition to his boat collection. Mr Slade already owns a 90-foot schooner, the Leopard of London, worth more than £3m, which last year won the Observer Trophy for the first single-hulled boat to complete the Round the Island race around the Isle of Wight.

Two years ago, however, Mr Slade nearly lost the boat after her crew were forced to abandon the vessel more than 400 miles from the English coast, in force eight gales.

Investors are unlikely to be aggrieved by Mr Slade's latest windfall. Shares in the company have almost doubled over the past 18 months. Furthermore, during the year to the end of March 2003, after a tougher year for the company, Mr Slade took a 75 per cent pay cut.

Announcing its interim results yesterday, the company boasted an increase in net assets per share of more than 10 per cent over the past six months, and an increase in interim pre-tax profits of 47 per cent to £9.5m.

Mr McNair Scott said prospects for the coming year also remained strong, with the company having already compiled a strong book of future business. "I think we've got between 30 and 40 projects, all of which are comparatively high margin if they work," he said.

He said the group remained optimistic about the prospects of further recovery in the offices sector, and said that he did not believe that a slowdown in consumer spending would have a negative effect on high street rents in the short term.

Shares in Helical Bar rose more than 1.5 per cent yesterday to 1,065p, giving the group a market value of £285m.