Porterbrook chief's 'hello' stirs fresh row

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Sandy Anderson, the rail executive who stands to make pounds 36.25m from the sale of the Porterbrook train leasing company, will receive a further pounds 250,000 "golden hello" from his new employer Stagecoach, it emerged yesterday.

Mr Anderson, whose gigantic windfall has provoked a fresh storm over privatised utility fat cats, and three other Porterbrook executives will share a pounds 500,000 payment in exchange for signing new service agreements with Stagecoach.

The other Porterbrook directors set to receive joining fees are finance director Ray Cork, whose profit from the takeover will be pounds 16.74m, and engineering director Tim Gilbert, who gets pounds 10.7m from the deal.

The fourth Porterbrook executive sharing in the payment is Billy Wraith, who has 32,000 A shares and 32,000 new deferred shares, according to the Stagecoach offer document posted out to shareholders on Thursday.

The document shows Mr Anderson's current annual salary is pounds 161,575, Mr Cork's is pounds 79,040 and Mr Gilbert's pounds 52,273. They bought shares in Porterbrook at the time of its management buyout from British Rail just seven months ago. The profit on their initial investment is estimated to be at least 500 per cent.

The Labour Party continued its attack on the "biggest privatisation scandal of them all", and warned its windfall utilities tax may be extended to privatised rail companies.

Stagecoach, which already owns one passenger franchise, South West Trains, and is bidding for the remaining 12 on offer, saw its shares fall by 10p to 521p. The fall followed the 11.5p drop the day before.

The company's shares had jumped by more than 10 per cent when the controversial Porterbrook deal was first unveiled on Wednesday, but there are now fears it could be a prime target of Labour's punitive tax.

The Porterbrook takeover has still be to approved by the rail regulator, John Swift, and the Office of Passenger Rail Franchising. Both regulators are concerned about the impact of the deal on competition and the sale of rail franchises.

Stagecoach is paying pounds 476m and assuming pounds 350m of borrowings, valuing its offer at pounds 826m. This compares with the pounds 527m the Government received when the buyout took place in January.

The six directors and 44 staff of Porterbrook, whose 20 per cent stake was worth pounds 15m at the time of the buyout, have seen the value of their holdings rise to pounds 95.2m.

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