Kate Swann could cash in £14m from the float of SSP


The former WH Smith boss Kate Swann could benefit to the tune of nearly £14m for overseeing the stock-market flotation of cafes operator SSP.

Shares in the Upper Crust owner rose 2.73 per cent to 215.75p on debut after they were priced to go at 210p, the lower end of its original 200p-240p range, following a number of flop flotations in recent months.

The listing valued the business at £997m.

Flotation documents issued last night showed the famously well-paid Ms Swann, who quit WH Smith after a decade last year, has been handed a £1.35m cash bonus to lead the group, which runs outlets in travel locations across the UK, North America and Asia and also owns Caffè Ritazza.

Ms Swann had a 1.8 per cent stake but cashed in around £2.4m worth of shares during the IPO process. She then received new shares, taking her stake back up to 1 per cent, valued at about £9.97m.

The company revealed yesterday that her salary is rising to £750,000 and she will be entitled to, with effect from October, a bonus of up to 200 per cent of her salary and performance-related share awards of up to 200 per cent, which could make her another £3m. Other benefits include a driver and 37 days’ holiday as well as an annual allowance of up to £262,000 in lieu of a pension.

The company’s private-equity owners, EQT Partners, will maintain a 40 per cent stake in the group, having previously controlled 94 per cent. It will use the £467m it raised to pay down its £870m debt.

“We are very pleased with the level of support that we have received from a broad range of investors,” Ms Swann said. “It is a strong endorsement of SSP’s strategy, and of the potential for future growth that we see for our business.”