The Hut Group’s founder scoops record £840m bonus

The Hut Group’s founder has scooped a record £840m bonus following the company’s blockbuster stock market listing. 

The Mail can reveal that Matt Moulding has netted the mammoth windfall – thought to be the biggest ever received by a chief executive of a UK company.

It comes from a long-term scheme that paid out thanks to a jump in the tech company’s share price since its initial public offering in September. 

Flashing the cash: Hut Group's founder and fitness fanatic Matt Moulding (above in red shorts)

Flashing the cash: Hut Group's founder and fitness fanatic Matt Moulding (above in red shorts)

Flashing the cash: Hut Group’s founder and fitness fanatic Matt Moulding (above in red shorts)

The 132.5m shares were worth £839m at last night’s closing price of 633p. 

But the total payout from the scheme will top £1billion if The Hut’s market capitalisation rises to £7.25billion. 

Even at the current share price he is already in line for one of the biggest awards in UK corporate history, with the huge bonus dwarfing the £323m package received by Denise Coates, the founder of online gambling giant Bet365, in 2018.

It would only be topped by the £1.2billion of dividends Topshop boss Philip Green paid himself in 2005, and the £1.1billion bonus steel magnate Lakshmi Mittal received in 2004. The shares are subject to a 180-day lock-in period, meaning Moulding will only be able to sell them in March. 

The 48-year-old entrepreneur already extracts £19.4m-per-year as the company’s landlord and, along with his wife Jodie, owns a £556m stake in The Hut Group. 

Last night critics slammed the scheme, arguing that the excessive payout is not aligned with long-term shareholder interests. 

Luke Hildyard, director of the High Pay Centre, said: ‘This looks like a gross overpayment for short-term share price increases and highlights the litany of corporate governance abuses associated with The Hut Group.

‘While the company has been celebrated as a British tech success story, these arrangements are far beyond what anybody could consider a fair and proportionate reward for success.’ 

A significant chunk of the shares paid out as the share price climbed to a high of 703p. But positive news about the vaccine has led it to drop back as investors believe a return to normality could limit growth online. 

Further questions were raised as The Hut’s remuneration committee chairman is private equity baron Dominic Murphy, a long-term business ally of Moulding’s. 

Murphy struck up a relationship with Moulding while he was global investment company KKR’s London partner, and was a key player when the American business bought a 20 per cent stake in The Hut Group in 2014. 

The high life: Matt Moulding with wife Jodie

The high life: Matt Moulding with wife Jodie

The high life: Matt Moulding with wife Jodie

He also has a personal stake in The Hut worth £116m. News of the bonus follows a volley of criticism over the company’s ‘awful’ corporate governance due to a lack of independent directors and Moulding’s all-powerful position as ‘executive chairman’. 

He also holds a special share that allows him to veto takeovers for the next three years. 

Last month several investment banks, which steered The Hut towards its IPO, raised red flags over its governance noting Moulding posed a ‘key man risk’. A spokesman for The Hut Group said: ‘We are delighted with the market reaction to our IPO and that all of our shareholders are benefiting from the strong performance of the business. 

‘The equity scheme was put in place when THG was a private company and we are delighted that over 200 THG staff have already shared in the scheme, worth around £200m today.’ In the three months to September 30, The Hut pulled in £378.1m of sales and bosses predict full-year profits will be around £1.5bn. 

A string of City and retail grandees have also cashed in from the company’s success. Former Tesco boss Sir Terry Leahy holds an £86m stake, billionaire tycoon Sir Tom Hunter has shares worth £120m, and former Debenhams boss Terry Green’s holding is worth £15m.

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