James Moore: F&C must carry on putting its house in order

Outlook F&C Asset Management has for some time been on the side of the angels when it comes to the way it stewards the companies in which it invests. With an active corporate governance unit, it uses its votes and its voice. The problem is it hasn't always, as a company, practised what its governance people have preached to others.

At one point, this even led the group's head of governance George Dallas to vote shares held in F&C by funds run by F&C (I know it's complicated, but that's the City for you) against the company's remuneration report.

It is actually to the company's credit that Mr Dallas is still in his post while Alain Grisay, whose pay package stoked investors' ire, is long gone.

But the company is still flouting the rules. Mr Grisay left as a result of an assault by the activist investor Edward Bramson, who promptly installed himself as chairman (bad form because he is not independent) and then assumed even more powers for himself by becoming executive chairman (very bad form).

This doesn't make the job of Mr Dallas any easier. If he wants to wag his finger at a misbehaving company, its bosses might be inclined to request that he stop throwing bricks from his glass house.

Mr Bramson has now at least agreed to relinquish his executive role and appoint Richard Wilson, an internal candidate, as chief executive.

The big question now is whether he will let Mr Wilson get on with his job without interfering. It might help if his next move was to step down as chairman in favour of an independent candidate. F&C would then, at last, be meeting the standards it holds others to. And the excellent Mr Dallas' job would be that much easier.

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