Holiday Autos chief got £80,000 pay-off after quitting Lastminute

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The Independent Online

Clive Jacobs, the founder of Holiday Autos, emerged as the highest paid director at lastminute.com last year as other executives failed to reach their bonus targets.

Clive Jacobs, the founder of Holiday Autos, emerged as the highest paid director at lastminute.com last year as other executives failed to reach their bonus targets.

Mr Jacobs quit amid rumours of a boardroom split in April, having spent barely a year as vice-chairman since lastminute bought his hire cars company for £39.7m in 2003.

The performance of Holiday Autos was a bright spot in a year marred by profit warnings at lastminute, and Mr Jacobs was paid £117,750 for nine months' work, plus a bonus of the same size, and a £79,500 pay-off in lieu of his six months' notice.

Since his departure Mr Jacobs has also made more than £1.5m from selling part of his 4 per cent stake in the company.

No other directors earned bonuses last year, it was disclosed in the company's annual report, released yesterday. Mr Jacobs' total pay of £368,714 dwarfed that of the rest of the board, including the chief executive, Brent Hoberman, who took home £214,204 in the year to 30 September, almost £10,000 less than for the previous year.

However, Mr Hoberman was given a 33 per cent increase in his basic salary to keep him ahead of other directors, including Mr Jacobs. His basic salary is being increased to £200,000, up from £150,000 the previous year. "It was the view of the remuneration committee that a significant increase in salary was required for the chief executive in order to move his salary level to a comparative position within the executive director team," the remuneration report said.

Martha Lane Fox, who founded lastminute with Mr Hoberman in 1998, was paid a total of £48,579 for the year, down from £208,924, after having moved into a non-executive position. David Howell, who quit after the financial year-end in November, was paid £176,884, a pay cut of 15 per cent.

A spokesman for lastminute said it was company policy to pay lower basic salaries than were available to executives at similar-sized retailers or other dot.coms and that, even including the bonus and pay-off for Mr Jacobs, the company's total executive remuneration bill was only a little over £1m.

Shareholders get to vote on lastminute's remuneration policy at the annual general meeting on 3 March.

They have seen the value of their investment halve over the past 12 months after costs spiralled and the company was heavily criticised for failing to integrate a string of acquisitions across the UK and Europe since lastminute floated at the height of the dot.com boom in 2000. The shares were down 1.5p yesterday to 108.5p.

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