Business – Regent Inns’ FD revelation

Pub group Regent Inns has revealed its former finance director, Clive Watson, exercised a package of share options two weeks before a profits warning sent its shares crashing in June.

In its annual report, Regent indicated the group remuneration committee allowed Watson to exercise early 40,000 share options under a 1995 executive scheme, which normally would not have been possible until 25 September 1999.

The group said it had taken into account Watson’s service and his willingness to stay on until a new FD could be found. The deal included his salary, a bonus and options.

On 6 June, Watson realised #55,000 when the share price was 380p. The annual report also shows he received a #40,000 performance-related bonus in the year to 4 July.

Regent shares have continued to fall since the warning. The group was listed this week at 124.5p. David Franks, MD, said at the time of the preliminary results statement that measures had been taken to tackle the issues and to restore investor confidence.

Two weeks ago, Paul Huberman, Regent’s new FD, said the company had spent more than #700,000 to rectify accounting problems at its head office (17 September 1998, page 2).

overmatter from 7b:

That had helped hold back pre-tax profits for the year to #13.3m on sales of #50.8m, compared to #12.8m on #44m sales.

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