Lorien has sold the prestigious P-E International site at Egham to property developer Priestmeer for #2.6m and moved some of its staff to Petty France in Victoria, London. The rest of the workforce is split between Lorien’s Manchester, Leeds and newly acquired Chertsey offices.
“It is certainly not an asset-stripping operation,” said Richard Fiddis, managing director of Lorien. “We felt we wanted to move into purpose-built buildings.”
Lorien acquired the site when it bought the then 63-year-old consultancy P-E International as part of a #11m rights-issue based offer. The sale went through at the beginning of the year, and was under discussion when former Lorien chief executive, Malcolm Coster, began the restructuring of Lorien/P-E International.
“The money from the sale will come to the business as cashflow and will be used for the good of the business and the shareholders,” said Michael Heeley, chairman of Lorien.
He denied that the sale had anything to do with the cost of Coster’s six month stay at Lorien: #1.9m in shares, extraordinary costs and compensation.
Coster, who was on a one-year contract, left the firm in June 1997 after what was said to be differences in style.
“The sale of the Egham site was something that we were doing anyway,” Heeley said.
When Coster was headhunted from Unisys he was given #1.6m in Lorien shares to make up for a drop in salary.
“They were part of a long-term incentive plan in order to compensate him for the move,” said Heeley. “They were held in an employee benefit trust.”
Coster eventually left with 300,000 shares and Lorien kept 200,000 shares, after paying Coster’s tax liability on the 600,000 shares. The shares rose from 335p each in June 1997 to over 600 pence by the end of the year.
P-E International’s turnover grew from #33.6m to #37.9m and the firm is now fully integrated into Lorien, although Fiddis said the brand would still be used as leverage.
Lorien’s revenue is up 158 per cent to #116.2m. The firm aims to invest #2.2m in kitting out its offices with leading-edge technology.
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