BTR names auditor chairman

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The Independent Online
BTR, the industrial conglomerate, has chosen a former head of its own firm of auditors to replace Norman Ireland as chairman. The appointment of Elwyn Eilledge, ex-senior partner at Ernst & Young, will fuel concern about the relationship between companies and their auditors.

Some investors have voted against the re-appointment of auditors at companies where a director was previously employed at the firm of accountants. Mr Eilledge will be joining another former E&Y partner, Kathleen O'Donovan, now BTR's finance director.

Outgoing chairman Norman Ireland, who steps down at BTR's annual meeting next May, defended the board's appointment of Mr Eilledge.

"I do not believe that his appointment to BTR will result in any conflict of interest. He has a strong international reputation and will bring a wealth of experience to the BTR board," he said.

Mr Eilledge, 60, joined Ernst & Young in 1966 and was chairman of the international operations from 1988 to 1995. The international activities operate in 118 countries and have 65,000 partners and staff. The client list includes some big players in manufacturing, oil, banking and insurance. He will initially join BTR as a non-executive director from 1 October 1995. No details of his package were being revealed, although he is likely to be on a two-year contract.

Some investors and advisers, including Pensions Investment Research Consulting, have taken a tough stance on auditors joining their clients. Last year the group opposed the re-appointment of Touche Ross as GEC's auditors because former partner David Newlands had joined the firm.