BA strengthens board with two non-executive directors (CORRECTED)

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The Independent Online

BRITISH AIRWAYS moved yesterday to strengthen its board in the wake of the Virgin Atlantic dirty tricks affair by hiring two new non-executive directors, writes Michael Harrison.

The appointment of Detta O'Cathain, managing director of the Barbican Centre, and Charles Mackay, chief executive of Inchcape, to the BA board lifts the number of directors to 11 - of whom eight are non-executives.

Following the Virgin affair Sir Michael Angus, BA's non-executive deputy chairman and president of the Confederation of British Industry, was charged with introducing a new code of ethics and overseeing compliance on matters of corporate governance.

But BA also made it clear that it wanted to strengthen its board with more UK-based non-executives. The decision to increase the number of independent directors and beef up their role was designed to defuse City criticism of its handling of the Virgin affair.

The appointment of Baroness O'Cathain and Mr Mackay could be the prelude to the departure of other BA non-executives. Lord White, the US-based chairman of Hanson Industries and an ally of the former BA chairman Lord King, and Charles Price, the former US ambassador to Britain, look the most likely to go.

Baroness O'Cathain, 55, is also a non-executive director of Tesco and of Sears, the US stores group. Mr Mackay, 53, has been chief executive of the motor distribution group Inchcape since 1991.


Baroness O'Cathain

In an article on 28 May it was incorrectly reported that Baroness O'Cathain is a director of Sears, the US stores group. She is a director of Sears, which has no connection with Sears Roebuck & Company, the US retail group.