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Director pay in focus at AI

ADMINISTRATORS to Aero Inventory (AI), the AIM-listed aero parts group that collapsed last week, are looking at ways to claw back money from the company&rsquo;s directors amid concern over the level of pay and bonuses taken by key executives.<br /><br />KPMG, which last week took control of AI on behalf of banks, owed more than &pound;300m, is said to be dismayed at how much management was rewarding itself relative to the size and strength of the company.<br /><br />Analysis of AI&rsquo;s remuneration reports between 2005 and 2008 shows that total pay taken by directors rose six-fold from &pound;582,000 to the equivalent of about &pound;3.5m after the company began reporting in US dollars.<br /><br />Chief executive Rupert Lewin, a former corporate broker for merchant bank Robert Fleming was paid $1.62 million (&pound;971,000) last year, including a bonus of $594,000. In 2005, his total remuneration was a more modest &pound;146,000 ($244,000). Finance director Hugh Bevan saw his pay and bonus rise from &pound;112,000 to $625,000 during the same period. Both men resigned when KPMG took control last week.<br /><br />The company, which had divisions in the US, Canada, Hong Kong, Japan, Bahrain and Australia, had been growing at a rapid rate but earnings per share rose much more slowly, from 53c (31p) to 102c. AI had stated assets of $750m and debts of $500m when it went under.&nbsp; <br /><br />Cracks in the company began to appear ahead of the company&rsquo;s planned move from the junior market to a main market listing. A review found that the&nbsp; value of <br />AI&rsquo;s stock was substantially overstated and some assets did not even exist.