Thousands of BT staff share £1.1bn payout after buying into the group

Five-year employee share-ownership scheme pays out in spectacular fashion

Nearly 23,000 BT staff are stitting on a £1.1bn fortune after a five-year employee share-ownership scheme paid out in spectacular fashion. The windfalls are worth an average of £49,000 each.

Staff who joined the “save as you earn” scheme in 2009 received discounted shares at 61p each and kept investing on a monthly basis. At the time, the BT share price stood at about 75p. Since then, the shares have rocketed to 388.5p as the company’s fortunes have improved.

Payouts will vary  according to how much each employee invested. Under the terms of the scheme, workers – mostly call centre agents and engineers – saved between £5 and £225 every month until July 2014.

BT said a member of staff who contributed the average of £124 a month will have seen the value of their shares soar from £7,762 to over £49,000 – a gain of nearly £42,000.

Around 7,000 participants saved the maximum of £225 a month, according to BT, collecting almost £90,000 a head – or a gain of £76,000.

In total, around a third of BT’s employees invested £177m for a return of £1.1bn – a gain of nearly £900m.

However, only a small minority have sold their shares so far.

The chief executive Gavin Patterson, who ran BT Retail before taking the top job last year, said: “I’m delighted that so many BT people are sharing in the company’s success through our save-share plan. BT was facing tough times five years ago and this was reflected in the share price. We’re in a much stronger place today and I would like to thank our people for the major part they’ve played in the turnaround.”

The City commentator Louise Cooper said: “The City has come in for a lot of flak during the financial crisis but this example shows that share ownership has an important role in motivating and rewarding staff. It is fabulous news that employees will get rewarded for backing the company they work for. The brilliance of employee share- ownership plans is that they align the interests of employees and shareholders.  More companies should follow BT’s example. Share option packages should not just be for the board, but for all staff.”

Mr Patterson has come in for some criticism over his own pay. The shareholder lobby group Pirc recently described BT’s executive bonus scheme as “highly excessive” because Mr Patterson could earn £7.4m if he hits targets, making his package worth up to 740 per cent of base salary.

However, most shareholders have backed the pay scheme as Britain’s biggest telecoms company has performed strongly, launching BT Sport last year – a move that helped to increase annual revenues at its consumer division for the first time in a decade.

BT has also changed the chief executive’s package so he will get a “significant reduction” in potential bonus for average performance.

A number of leading companies offer profit-share schemes. The clothing retailer Sports Direct paid out £112m in shares to around 2,000 staff last year as part of a 2009 long-term bonus scheme, with a worker earning £20,000 in line for a £79,000 bonus.

The John Lewis Partnership gives all staff the same percentage bonus as a proportion of base salary.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
ebooks
ebooksAn introduction to the ground rules of British democracy
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs Money & Business

Recruitment Genius: Sales Assistant / Buyer

£15000 - £17000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This company offers a range of ...

Recruitment Genius: Customer Service Advisor

£15000 - £16000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Customer Service Advisors are r...

SThree: Trainee Recruitment Consultant

£20000 - £25000 per annum + OTE £45K: SThree: SThree were established in 1986....

Recruitment Genius: Compliance Manager

£40000 - £60000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A Compliance Manager is require...

Day In a Page

Greece says 'No': A night of huge celebrations in Athens as voters decisively back Tsipras and his anti-austerity stance in historic referendum

Greece referendum

Greeks say 'No' to austerity and plunge Europe into crisis
Ten years after the 7/7 terror attacks, is Britain an altered state?

7/7 bombings anniversary

Ten years after the terror attacks, is Britain an altered state?
Beautiful evening dresses are some of the loveliest Donatella has created

Versace haute couture review

Beautiful evening dresses are some of the loveliest Donatella has ever created
No hope and no jobs, so Gaza's young risk their lives, climb the fence and run for it

No hope and no jobs in Gaza

So the young risk their lives and run for it
Fashion apps: Retailers roll together shopping and social networking for mobile customers

Fashion apps

Retailers roll together shopping and social networking for mobile customers
The Greek referendum exposes a gaping hole at the heart of the European Union – its distinct lack of any genuine popular legitimacy

Gaping hole at the heart of the European Union

Treatment of Greece has shown up a lack of genuine legitimacy
Number of young homeless in Britain 'more than three times the official figures'

'Everything changed when I went to the hostel'

Number of young homeless people in Britain is 'more than three times the official figures'
Compton Cricket Club

Compton Cricket Club

Portraits of LA cricketers from notorious suburb to be displayed in London
London now the global money-laundering centre for the drug trade, says crime expert

Wlecome to London, drug money-laundering centre for the world

'Mexico is its heart and London is its head'
The Buddhist temple minutes from Centre Court that helps a winner keep on winning

The Buddhist temple minutes from Centre Court

It helps a winner keep on winning
Is this the future of flying: battery-powered planes made of plastic, and without flight decks?

Is this the future of flying?

Battery-powered planes made of plastic, and without flight decks
Isis are barbarians – but the Caliphate is a dream at the heart of all Muslim traditions

Isis are barbarians

but the Caliphate is an ancient Muslim ideal
The Brink's-Mat curse strikes again: three tons of stolen gold that brought only grief

Curse of Brink's Mat strikes again

Death of John 'Goldfinger' Palmer the latest killing related to 1983 heist
Greece debt crisis: 'The ministers talk to us about miracles' – why Greeks are cynical ahead of the bailout referendum

'The ministers talk to us about miracles'

Why Greeks are cynical ahead of the bailout referendum
Call of the wild: How science is learning to decode the way animals communicate

Call of the wild

How science is learning to decode the way animals communicate