Wembley gives Wolfson deal worth £157,000

BY DAVID HELLIER

Wembley, the heavily indebted owner of the Wembley stadium complex, has agreed a two-year service contract, worth £157,000 a year, with its former chairman, Sir Brian Wolfson.

Sir Brian is stepping down as chairman to become full-time deputy chairman as part of complex restructuring proposals being sent to the group's long- suffering shareholders this week.

The proposed package, which is said to include a company car, private medical insurance, pension scheme contributions as well as a performance- related bonus, is likely to incense some institutional shareholders who have said they will back a refinancing plan only if Sir Brian's future role in the company is greatly reduced.

Sir Brian is blamed by some shareholders for the diversification programme that has led to Wembley incurring huge debts. Its shares are suspended at 6p, awaiting the approval of complex proposals that would result in the number of shares in issue rising from 250 million to an astonishing 5.5 billion.

Under the terms of the restructuring Wembley hopes to raise £62.5m from shareholders and the company's bankers to reduce debt to £72m.

Sir Brian is being succeeded as chairman by Claes Hultman, the Swedish chief executive of Eurotherm, the UK process control equipment company, partly as a result of pressure from institutions that have wanted to see a strengthening of the management team.

A spokesman for Charterhouse, the bank advising on the refinancing, would not discuss the details of the agreement with Sir Brian. "I do not want to be drawn on particular aspects of the deal. It comes together as a complete package. But clearly we think that Sir Brian has a contribution to make to the company going forward," he said.

Wembley's refinancing schemes need to be approved by a majority of the ordinary shareholders, who are being asked to put up new money at 2p a share, and by 75 per cent of the preference shareholders. An extraordinary general meeting has been called for 4 May.

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