Shares windfall for Centrica directors

Roy Gardner, chief executive of the British Gas trading arm Centrica, was last night sitting on shares worth more than pounds 2.5m after the company issued a further tranche of options under its long-term incentive scheme.

A total of five executive directors, including Mr Gardner, were awarded another 1.18 million shares worth pounds 1.1m. In total the five hold 6 million shares worth pounds 5.7m at last night's closing price of 94.5p.

Mr Gardner has 2.7 million shares, of which 1.23 million are held under the long-term incentive scheme. Mike Alexander, managing director, has just over one million, finance director Mark Clare holds 774,000, commercial director Peter Lehmann has 967,00 and Roger Wood, managing director of British Gas Services, holds 626,000 shares.

Under the Centrica scheme, directors are eligible for share awards equal to 125 per cent of their base salaries. The shares have to be held for a period of five to six years and can only be granted provided certain performance conditions are met based on total shareholder return. The company's performance must rank 50th or above against the FTSE 100 for any shares to be released. If the performance is in the top quartile then 100 per cent of the shares are vested.

Centrica's shares have been on rising trend since the demerger in February as it has begun to unwind its take-or-pay liabilities in the North Sea and fought back against loss of market share to rivals through a series of price cutting initiatives.