ITV chief Allen could net £2m pay-off

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The Independent Online

Charles Allen could walk away with a pay-off worth more than £2m if he is ousted as chief executive of the merged ITV company, it was disclosed yesterday.

Listing particulars sent to shareholders in Granada and Carlton show that although Mr Allen has agreed to cut his notice period from two years to one, he would be eligible for a shares award worth between 75 per cent and 100 per cent of base salary in addition to one year's pay if he was dismissed. His current salary is £1,006,335. Mr Allen would also receive a 12-month pension credit.

The documents also reveal that Granada faces an £80m legal claim from United News & Media over the sale of its Meridian and Anglia television franchises three years ago. The claim relates to group tax relief surrendered by United when Granada bought the franchises. Granada has submitted a £13m counter-claim.

Mr Allen's pay-off entitlement, coupled with the £1.4m severance packagethat the ousted ITV chairman-designate, Michael Green, will collect even though he has no contract with the company, could spark fresh shareholder protests.

Anthony Bolton of Fidelity, who led the move to oust Mr Green, is said to be so incensed with his pay-off that he has called for the immediate resignation of Sir Brian Pitman, who is becoming interim chairman of ITV, and John McGrath, another non-executive who joins the merged ITV company from the board of Carlton.

However, a Granada spokesman said the shares award was designed to compensate Mr Allen for the fact that he was giving up his two-year contract. Mr Allen will receive a minimum award of 75 per cent of base salary under the company's deferred share scheme, rising to 100 per cent depending on share price performance.

Last Friday Mr Allen was granted just under 788,000 deferred shares worth £1m, due to be released next December and December 2005.