Royal carpeting for boss Geoff Wilding


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The Independent Online

The former investment banker running royal wedding carpet supplier Victoria has run up £20m in company debts as part of a deal that handed him 50 per cent of the business.

Geoff Wilding became executive chairman of the failing flooring firm in 2012 after a bitter boardroom coup,.

In February last year, Victoria, founded in 1895, took out a contract for difference with a shell firm controlled by Mr Wilding that would pay out if 300p a share was returned to shareholders through either a share buyback or dividend. In June Victoria proposed a special dividend of £2.92 per share,  which, added to previous payments, triggered the CfD clause. But instead of a cash payment, Victoria did a rights issue that left Mr Wilding’s vehicle with half of the business.

Yesterday’s half year results revealed that losses ballooned to £8.12m, from £30,000 last year, with £7.55m of that related to settling the CfD contract. Meanwhile the company’s debts grew almost sevenfold from £3m to £20.2m, “due solely to the payment of the special dividend”. Victoria shares fell 10 per cent.

Mr Wilding defended his actions, saying he was turning around the company and increased its stock market value from £14m to £60m, making the firm a major competitor in the industry once again.