Intertek chief cashes in with £7.7m shares sale

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Richard Nelson, chief executive of the testing services firm Intertek, raised £7.7m by selling half of his shareholding in the company yesterday.

Intertek's finance director, Bill Spencer, followed his chief executive's example when he sold 40 per cent of his stake.

Both directors took advantage of a rising share price, with Intertek shares reaching a record high of 482.5p, almost 50 per cent higher than their March low of 325.5p. The group's shares fell 3.5p yesterday after the disclosure.

A spokeswoman for the company said that Mr Nelson, 60, had taken the opportunity to diversify his portfolio at one of the relatively few windows not in a closed period. Mr Nelson has been with the company for more than 30 years and still retained a substantial investment in the company, she added.

As part of the sell-off, Mr Nelson and Mr Spencer agreed not to sell any further shares in the company for at least one year and Mr Nelson has also agreed to remain as chief executive until the company's annual meeting in May 2005.

Intertek was created out of a management buyout in 1996, although directors had been unable to sell shares until March this year, coinciding with a dip in share price.

Last week Intertek announced a 60 per cent increase in pre-tax profits for the half year to June, although the company had benefited from exchange rate changes with about 80 per cent of the company's business in US dollars or related currencies.

Landround, the travel promotion specialist, also announced yesterday that Evolution Beeson Gregory had placed 500,000 shares at 300p on behalf of non-executive chairman Michael Crompton.

The news from Intertek and Landround follows a spate of company directors taking advantage of an upturn in their company's share market to sell stock. Yesterday two directors of the clothing and footwear supplier Lambert Howarth sold stock for a combined total of £4.25m, following interim results announced last week. The chief executive, Garry Hogarth, and executive director, Richard Brainin, each sold 850,000 shares at 250p.

Like Intertek, Lambert Howarth has seen its share price rise by about 50 per cent this year.