Stevens associate beats top fund managers on pay

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The Independent Online
Christopher Mills, a little-known associate of Lord Stevens and investment adviser to his fund management firm, Invesco MIM, received pay and perks last year exceeding the salary of the chairman of Britain's biggest fund manager.

The astonishing total of pounds 779,000 paid in benefits to Mr Mills's private company compares with the pounds 587,000 salary and bonus (excluding pension contributions) paid last year to Mick Newmarch, the Prudential's chief.

The 39-year-old grandson of the circus founder Bertram Mills, he earned the money in 1990/91 in fees paid by Invesco MIM and in consulting income and directors fees paid by other companies, some related to the fund managers.

Out of the fees flowing into his private company, Growth Investment Management, described by Mr Mills as a 'money-box company', he paid himself a salary of pounds 180,000 plus dividends of pounds 150,000 and pension payments of pounds 235,000.

'It was a particularly good year, mostly because I earned substantial sums advising on a couple of acquisitions which were nothing to do with Invesco MIM or related companies,' said Mr Mills, who added that his earnings have fallen sharply more recently.

These amounts include pounds 125,000 paid by Alexander Proudfoot, the quoted management consultancy also chaired by Lord Stevens. He received a non-executive director's fee of pounds 50,000 and a pounds 75,000 bonus for introducing new clients.

This sum formed part of the pounds 235,000 GIM in turn paid to top up Mr Mills's private pension plan, which had apparently suffered from some poor investments. According to GIM's accounts, pounds 110,000 of his pension fund's investments had been virtually wiped out.

'I don't always get it right - I had Polly Peck shares and one or two others that didn't do very well.'

The Proudfoot payment was approved by the remuneration committee. This has two members: Lord Stevens and William Eberle, a prominent US businessman.

All three men are also directors of Mid- States and Oak Industries, which have links with Invesco MIM.

The size of the Proudfoot payment to Mr Mills seems likely to distress shareholders, whose shares have tumbled from 398p to just 153p this year.

Mr Mills has 'a very unusual arrangement' with Invesco MIM. After switching from consultant to part-time employee, his status may change again following the recent boardroom reshuffle. Lord Stevens announced plans to leave as chairman and executive power passed to American director Charles Brady. 'I am reviewing my position,' Mr Mills said.

He is best known for running the quoted investment trust Consolidated Venture, also chaired by Lord Stevens, which pays fees to Invesco MIM and GIM.

In a complex web of cross- holdings, the trust's main stakes have included Proudfoot, Mid- States and Oak Industries.

Mr Mills has spent all his working life at Invesco MIM and its predecessor companies and went to Cambridge University with a scholarship from the group.

He quit as a director and became a consultant in 1984.

Mr Mills was also responsible for the US investments of Drayton Consolidated, the investment trust chaired by Lord Stevens that is being run down after a disastrous slump in its assets and share price.

'The US investments were the successful part of Drayton,' Mr Mills said.

(Photograph omitted)