Bumper windfall for Morrisons directors if the £6.3bn takeover goes ahead

Morrisons directors could make tens of millions of pounds if a £6.3bn private equity bid for the Bradford-based grocer goes ahead.

Morrisons' chief executive, David Potts
Morrisons' chief executive, David Potts

Three directors stand to rake in up to £35m from the proposed sale of the business, The Sunday Times reported.

The deal is already contentious after both unions and Labour MPs raised concerns about the impact on jobs and the supermarket’s sizeable real estate portfolio.

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Business secretary Kwasi Kwarteng is to meet with members of the Morrisons’ board to discuss the proposed takeover.

The offer, led by Softbank-owned Fortress which has partnered with Canada Pension Plan Investment Board and Koch Real Estate Investments, will see shareholders receive 252p per share plus a 2p special dividend.

Morrisons' chief executive, David Potts, stands to make up to £19.6m if the supermarket’s board decides to honour share awards granted to executives under long-term incentive plans, according to the Sunday Times.

He is guaranteed a £9.2m payout from the deal on the shares he already owns.

Luke Hildyard, director of The High Pay Centre think tank, said this would be a "vastly excessive" windfall.

Morrisons’ chief operating officer, Trevor Strain, is in line for a £3.6m payout, which could rise to £11.5m. Finance director Michael Gleeson will get £804,565, possibly rising to £3.7m.

Former chief executive, Sir Ken Morrison, passed his fortune to his wife Lynne and his five children when he died four years ago. Family members own around 5 per cent of the grocery chain, suggesting the deal will put a £315m valuation on their shares.

Speaking to The Yorkshire Post, Mr Kwarteng confirmed he is due to speak to the Morrisons’ board, but added he had no plans to speak to Fortress.

“We are monitoring the situation,” he said.

“It is not something that classically I would want to intervene on. I think there is a role for Government but I don’t want to be in a position where the Government is going to intervene on every single M&A transaction that takes place. I don’t think that’s the role of ministers.

“I think there is a concern about Morrisons with its great tradition, its great history. It employs a huge amount of people, about 100,000 people, so it is a significant business."

Morrisons said the Fortress deal will protect the legacy of Sir Ken Morrison, Morrisons' history and culture and its staff and customers.

In a statement Morrisons said: "Morrisons and Fortress place very significant emphasis on the wider responsibilities of ownership of Morrisons.

"These responsibilities include recognising the legacy of Sir Ken Morrison, Morrisons' history and culture, and the important role that Morrisons plays for all stakeholders, including colleagues, customers, members of the Morrisons Pension Schemes, local communities, partner suppliers, British farming and the wider British public.

"Fortress’ investment approach is to acquire companies with strong management teams and empower them to deliver their long-term strategy."