Premier League chair­man scores £15m pay­day on Hast­ings sale

The Daily Telegraph - Business - - Business - By

Michael O’Dwyer

PREMIER League chair­man Gary Hoff­man is to pocket al­most £15m from a deal to take in­surer Hast­ings pri­vate.

Mr Hoff­man – who was pre­vi­ously chief ex­ec­u­tive and then chair­man at the firm – will share in a bumper pay­day worth up to £40m for cur­rent and re­cently departed bosses, if a £1.7bn takeover by South African and Fin­nish in­vestors goes ahead.

Mean­while, Hast­ings founder Neil Ut­ley is set to earn £73.3m from his 4.4pc stake in the com­pany.

Hast­ings’ board has backed the of­fer from Rand Mer­chant In­vest­ment Hold­ings and Sampo, a Fin­nish in­sur­ance com­pany linked to Nordic bank­ing group Nordea, mean­ing it is likely to be ap­proved by share­hold­ers.

In­vestors will get 250p per share if the takeover goes ahead, mean­ing large pay­outs for se­nior man­age­ment who own stock.

Toby van der Meer, cur­rent chief ex­ec­u­tive, owns 3.5m shares out­right and has up to 1.7m more com­ing if he hits var­i­ous bonus tar­gets, mean­ing the 43-year-old is in line for up to £13m.

Mr Hoff­man, 59, took charge of Hast­ings in 2012 and over­saw a float five years ago in which he earned mil­lions of pounds. He then moved to chair­man in 2018, be­fore giv­ing up that role when ap­proved for the Premier League job.

The busi­ness­man is un­der­stood to own 5.9m shares, worth more than £14.7m un­der the deal terms. He was pre­vi­ously in charge of North­ern Rock fol­low­ing its col­lapse dur­ing the fi­nan­cial cri­sis. He was forced to give up a £500,000 “golden good­bye” when quit­ting a decade ago.

South African firm RMI is al­ready the big­gest share­holder in FTSE 250 com­pany Hast­ings, with a 29.7pc stake.

The all-cash deal will give in­vestors a 47pc pre­mium to the share price be­fore Hast­ings an­nounced last week that the bid­ders had made an ap­proach.

Mr Van der Meer said the deal was a sign of con­fi­dence in the UK. No sig­nif­i­cant lay­offs are ex­pected as a re­sult of the deal and man­age­ment will re­main in place, he said. But be­cause Hast­ings will be­come a pri­vate com­pany, it will seek to re­duce some of the costs as­so­ci­ated with be­ing a listed firm.

Listed com­pa­nies face more strin­gent re­port­ing and dis­clo­sure re­quire­ments to en­sure that in­vestors have enough in­for­ma­tion for shares to be priced ac­cu­rately on the stock mar­ket.

Share­hold­ers will also bag a div­i­dend pay­out of nearly £30m af­ter Hast­ings said it would match the 4.5p in­terim div­i­dend it paid last year.

Pre-tax prof­its in the first six months of the year jumped £18m to £64m as it man­aged to in­crease sales de­spite the pan­demic. The firm was helped by a lower num­ber of car ac­ci­dent claims dur­ing lock­down.

Hast­ings did not pro­vide a fig­ure for the dis­counts and re­funds of­fered to cus­tomers as a re­sult of the pan­demic.

It said it spent tens of mil­lions of pounds on sup­port for col­leagues, cus­tomers and com­mu­ni­ties.

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