Wheway in pledge to new chief

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The Independent Online
WHEWAY, the environmental engineer facing a pounds 14m bid from rival McLeod Russel, has agreed to pay its new chief executive, Brian Long, pounds 230,000 compensation if the company is taken over. The agreement has yet to be disclosed to shareholders, writes Jason Nisse.

A letter offering the post to Mr Long, the former chief executive of Acorn Computers who formally joins the Wheway board on Friday, and dated February 15 has come into the hands of The Independent on Sunday. Wheway's chairman, Hugh Ashton, tells Mr Long that he will be paid pounds 115,000 a year salary plus a bonus of pounds 25,000, share options, a company car, life insurance and a pension.

Mr Ashton tells Mr Long that 'as a consequence of change of control of the company, compensation for loss of office would be payable equivalent to 24 months of base salary'.

The offer came just 24 hours before McLeod Russel, which has been in talks with Wheway about a possible bid for the company, told Wheway that it would be making a bid. The aggressive offer was formally announced on 18 February.

In Wheway's annual report, published on 29 January, Mr Ashton says: 'It remains the board's view that the development of Wheway would be best served by a merger with a financially robust partner.'

It has emerged that Wheway was also in talks with Senior Engineering about a bid, and Wheway's merchant bank, NM Rothschild, has been actively soliciting bids for the company.

If McLeod Russel's bid succeeds, Mr Long would be entitled to a pounds 230,000 pay-off for only a few weeks' work.

Mr Long has been recruited following the resignation of John McGowan, who was chairman and chief executive. Mr McGowan's severance deal is believed to be worth pounds 400,000. .

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