Leighton logs on as lastminute chairman

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The Independent Online

LASTMINUTE.COM, the high profile internet travel and late-bookings company, pulled off a management coup yesterday when it appointed Allan Leighton, the former Asda chief executive, as its chairman.

LASTMINUTE.COM, the high profile internet travel and late-bookings company, pulled off a management coup yesterday when it appointed Allan Leighton, the former Asda chief executive, as its chairman.

Mr Leighton, who quit Asda last month, said he was so confident in the company's prospects that he had agreed to waive his salary. He will be paid in share options with the allocation of a million options priced at 137.5p. The shares slid 6.5p to 131p yesterday.

"It was a joint idea [taking no salary]," Mr Leighton said. "At the moment the business doesn't make money so I thought it would be wrong for the chairman to take money out."

He also said he believed lastminute was a winning idea despite the slump in its share price since its high-profile float in March. "I'm a simple soul. I like simple things and I know customers do too. Lastminute is a great idea as everything is becoming last-minute these days."

Mr Leighton, 47, left Asda a year after its takeover by Wal-Mart, saying he wanted to take on a number of part-time jobs.

He will be non-executive chairman, but insists he will play a major role. Two things had attracted him to lastminute, he said; the people and the concept. "[Its founders] Brent Hoberman and Martha Lane Fox are exceptional talents."

Mr Leighton denied the appointment was a cynical attempt to win the City over. "This is isn't a case of 'stick Allan's name on the team sheet and hope the share price goes up'."

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