Pension boost and cash payment for former Ocean chief

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The Independent Online
NICHOLAS BARBER has accepted an enhanced pension and a cash payment as compensation for stepping down as chief executive of Ocean Group, the distribution and marine services company.

Ian Laurie, finance director, said the cash payment was less than pounds 100,000 but the size of the pension payment would not be revealed until after the publication of the 1994 annual report.

John Allan, a member of BET's board for seven years, was yesterday named as the successor to Mr Barber, who left the group in July.

Ocean also reported half-year results, showing downturns in three of its five divisions. Taxable profits dipped from pounds 20.8m to pounds 19.7m and would have been lower but for a pounds 1m fall in interest charges to pounds 2.6m.

Peter Marshall, chairman, said the outlook remained uncertain in highly competitive markets. Analysts expect the full-year result to be pounds 40m- pounds 44m before tax, against pounds 44.1m last year.

The interim dividend is unchanged at 4.71p, with earnings per share dipping from 9.4p to 9p.

Marine operating profits improved from pounds 14.6m to pounds 16.2m and the offshore support business had a good first half, although political and economic uncertainties remained in West Africa, Mr Marshall said.

Cory Environmental's profits rose from pounds 1.9m to pounds 2.1m despite a tough market in industrial waste treatment. The improvement was driven by domestic waste disposal contracts with local authorities and an increase in the amount of waste removed from London on barges on the Thames.

The air freight and logistics operation's profits fell from pounds 2.6m to pounds 1.9m as airlines took advantage of more buoyant conditions and raised prices. Ocean was confident it would be able to pass on increases to customers.

Severe winter weather and further pressure on prices saw NET, the environmental testing operation in the US, dive from profits of pounds 200,000 to losses of pounds 1.2m.

Returns from McGregor Cory contract distribution also fell from pounds 3.8m to pounds 3.2m. Recession in France and Spain caused the most difficulties.