Telewest pays out £500,000 in bonuses

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The Independent Online

The cable company Telewest shocked investors yesterday after it revealed it paid its two top directors almost £500,000 worth of bonuses last year in a move set to fuel the debate over executive pay.

Separately, rival company NTL unveiled plans to award its senior management team a potentially lucrative share option scheme once it has emerged from Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection.

Telewest's report and accounts for 2001, revealed that chief executive Adam Singer's total pay amounted to £779,000, including a £186,000 bonus, compared with the £504,000 he earned in 2000.

Charles Burdick, finance director, received £671,000 in 2001, including a £283,000 bonus, compared with the £524,000 he earned the previous year.

The move comes as speculation mounts that Telewest, which has more than £5bn of debt, will be forced to carry out a debt-for-equity swap which will see bondholders end up controlling the company.

NTL, which filed for Chapter 11 in the US on Wednesday, said it would create an incentive plan for both its UK operation and its European arm and said options to buy up to 10 per cent of each operation would be granted to key executives.

The move comes as its bondholders prepare to seize control of the business in a move that will see some $10.6bn of debt converted to equity.

As part of its restructuring, NTL be divided into two businesses – NTL UK and Ireland, and NTL Euroco.

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