City welcomes Strachan in top job at BTR

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The Independent Online
The City welcomed yesterday's confirmation of a top-level boardroom change at the BTR conglomerate, with Ian Strachan, deputy chief executive of the mining group RTZ, to succeed Alan Jackson as chief executive.

Analysts hailed the move, along with an announcement that BTR is to break with tradition by seeking two non-executive directors externally.

Industry observers said Strachan's stewardship would probably usher in an era of better investor relations by BTR, whose stock market value has slumped by 25 per cent over the past five months.

Yesterday's developments are widely viewed as a climbdown by the conglomerate. As recently as this month, Norman Ireland, chairman, said he doubted the value of independent non-executives. The group was unlikely to decide on whether to appoint any for three to six months, he said.

Nigel Utley, of Nomura, said BTR's management had traditionally been "a bit inbred", and it was pleasing that the lack of an obvious internal successor to Mr Jackson had forced it to look farther afield.

He also said Mr Strachan was "a smooth PR man", and the consensus among BTR-watchers was that the key appointment would help rebuild investor sentiment towards the group.

Peter Wyatt, at Smith New Court, said BTR had had problems with shareholder communications in the past and expected Mr Strachan, 51, to adopt "a more open approach". David Ireland, at Hoare Govett, said: "I think this is good news for BTR. He [Strachan] has always been well regarded. He's a good communicator."

BTR said Mr Strachan would join the board as an executive director on 24 April and become managing director on 1 July.

Mr Jackson, who will be 60 next year, will retire as chief executive on 1 January 1996, to be succeeded by Mr Strachan. Mr Jackson will be responsible for the group's operational performance in 1995, after which he will become a non-executive director.

Outlook, page 33.