Parton quits Telent with pay-off worth £3.2m

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Mike Parton has quit as chief executive of Telent, the rump of the Marconi business, after a lucrative five years at the top of the former industrial giant in which he has profited on share options to the tune of £10m.

Mr Parton, who leaves after a takeover of Telent collapsed earlier this month, will receive a pay-off of more than £800,000 and still has share options worth about £2.4m. Mr Parton said in a statement: "I feel this is an opportune time for me to move on." He said he did not have another job lined up and might be tempted by a role in private equity.

Fortress Investment Group had agreed a takeover of Telent earlier this year but the deal was blocked last week by a US hedge fund, Polygon, which had built a majority shareholding in the company and argued that the £346m deal undervalued the business.

Mr Parton missed out on a near £9m windfall as a result of the deal collapsing.

Telent has emphasised that there is no other bid on the table yet its shares have been steady since the deal fell through. They closed yesterday down 1.4 per cent at 485.5p. Mark Plato, who has been running Telent's as managing director, will replace Mr Parton as chief executive.

Mr Parton took over the Marconi business in 2001 with the former industrial conglomerate on the brink of financial oblivion. Under its previous management, Marconi had sold off many of its profitable defence businesses and transformed itself into a telecoms equipment giant through a series of expensive acquisitions. Marconi racked up a huge debt pile in the process and was ill-prepared when sales dried up after the tech bubble burst.

Under Mr Parton, who joined GEC-Marconi in 1980, Marconi pulled off a £4.7bn debt restructuring and cut thousands of jobs. The company gradually recovered and Mr Parton was rewarded financially after it cleared its £850m debt pile through the sale of a US asset. Mr Parton was also handed a £1.9m bonus when the company's market capitalisation exceeded £1bn for a sustained period.

However, Marconi missed out on crucial contracts in the massive upgrade to BT's network in the UK, which left it vulnerable. After discussions with the Chinese company Huawei Technologies fell through, Marconi accepted a £1.2bn takeover from the Swedish telecoms equipment company Ericsson last year which also poured funds into an escrow account to ensure that the company's £2.7bn pension pot was funded adequately. The remaining business was renamed Telent and Mr Parton stayed on to ensure that the new company got off to a strong start.