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How the utility supremos worked their way to the top salaries

JAMES SMITH, 67, has been chairman of Eastern Electricity since 1990, writes Ian MacKinnon.

Last year he made £466,287 on top of his £237,000 salary by cashing in his share options in April. His salary before privatisation was £68,000. A father of one son and one daughter, he was educated at Heriot-Watt College and Strathclyde University beforemoving on to become an engineering officer at Mercantile Marine and then to appointments at several electricity-generating boards, becoming chairman of the Eastern Electricity Board in 1982.

SIR DESMOND PITCHER, 59, became chairman of Northwest Water Group in 1993 - his £315,000 salary represented nearly a sixfold rise on that paid to his predecessor in1989-90. It is a role he has combined with being chairman of the Mersey Barrage Company and the Mersey Development Corporation.

From his three marriages, Sir Desmond, knighted in 1992, has two sons and two daughters. He was educated at Liverpool College of Technology before a career in industry, primarily in telecommunications and motor manufacturing. He is also deputy chairman of Everton Football Club.

CEDRIC BROWN, 59, has been chief executive of British Gas since 1992, after a year as senior managing director. He earns £475,000 a year, a rise of 75 per cent on the previous year, which provoked a storm of protest.

The father of three daughters and a son, he worked his way up during a career in the gas industry. He was educated at Sheffield, Rotherham and Derby colleges of technology before becoming a gas-distribution engineer for East Midlands Gas Board. With spe lls in private industry, he progressed to regional chairman of British Gas's West Midlands operation.