QMH looks at share options for directors and senior managers

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A SHARE option scheme for directors and senior management is under consideration at Queens Moat Houses. Share dealings in the troubled hotels group were suspended at 47.5p nearly 18 months ago.

The company has yet to secure the agreement of its 74 lenders for a restructuring of its pounds 1.5bn of debts, which cost a crippling pounds 2m a week in interest charges.

A price for the share options may be struck, assuming a restructuring is agreed, less than a month after the shares are relisted. Andrew Coppel, chief executive, said it was imperative that an incentive scheme was introduced.

Mr Coppel, who hopes to enter soon into a formal service agreement with the company, said he was aware of a possible backlash from ordinary shareholders should they perceive that the scheme looked greedy. He said he would prefer a scheme that could be phased in, and avoid the effects of the share price volatility that will almost certainly follow a relisting.

'We have no idea what structure the scheme will finally take,' he said. However, one possibility was that the option price could be capped, based on a five-day average of the share price two to three weeks after relisting.

He said the scheme would be in accordance with established guidelines, which allow executives to be granted 3 per cent of the equity over a three-year period.

A profit-related bonus scheme has already been introduced for hotel managers. Payments, if any, will not be made under the new scheme until next year, by when the company is confident that its lenders will have agreed a refinancing.