Sage boss hits jackpot in poker float bonanza - Sunday 12th of June 2005

MICHAEL JACKSON, head of the Sage software company, is to collect a salary of about £500,000 to be non- executive chairman of Party Gaming, the online poker group, and will be awarded shares worth £1m in the company if it presses ahead with a planned flotation. Jackson, whose appointment was announced just over two weeks ago, will become one of the best-paid non-executives in the country. Brian Larcombe, former chief executive of 3i, Europe’s largest venture-capital group, will receive a salary of about £250,000 as non-executive deputy chairman.

The size and structure of the packages has stunned the City. One source said: “This is going to look like they have their noses in the trough.? The share award to Jackson has especially surprised people. He will collect his £500,000 chairman’s salary even if Party Gaming does not go ahead with a flotation. But if it does, the company will probably go straight into the FTSE 100, and some estimates suggest it could be valued at more than £5 billion. A spokesman for Party Gaming, which runs Party Poker, the world’s largest poker site, said: “For a business of this size and success, there can be absolutely no compromise on the quality of the non-executive directors.?

The company thinks that Jackson and Larcombe are among the few prominent executives with the right combination of FTSE experience, knowledge of high-growth businesses and the IT sector. It sought to play down suggestions that the big pay packages were “danger money? paid because of the regulatory concerns over Party Gaming and other online gaming and betting companies. Online sports betting is illegal in America, and there is a question mark over the legal status of online poker and other casino games. This is a particular problem for Party Gaming because the vast bulk of its business comes from America.

www.timesonline.co.uk

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