Gardner tipped as British Gas chief

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The Independent Online
MARY FAGAN

Industrial Correspondent

British Gas concluded a round of sweeping boardroom changes with the appointment as group finance director of Philip Hampton, the 42-year-old finance director of British Steel. Mr Hampton succeeds Roy Gardner, who has taken on a much wider brief and is increasingly regarded as the eventual replacement for the chief executive, Cedric Brown, now seen as the last of the old guard.

Mr Gardner, who joined from GEC in late 1994, takes on the formidable responsibility of renegotiating long-term contracts with North Sea producers, which are forcing the company to buy much more gas than it can sell, often at prices above those available in the market today. At the same time, he will be in charge of the gas supply business at a time when the domestic market is being opened up to competition from rivals, including offshore companies and electricity firms.

British Gas also confirmed that John Whybrew would join the board from Shell, in the newly created role of director for strategic planning and corporate affairs. A spokeswoman said that Peter Sanguinetti, the director for corporate affairs, would continue in his role and report to Mr Whybrew.

Mr Hampton, who is highly regarded by City analysts, receives a pounds 70,000 golden hello in addition to his pounds 295,000 salary. The up-front payment is to compensate him for loss of share options at British Steel, where his package of pay and bonus was almost pounds 290,000.

Mr Whybrew's salary is pounds 275,000 and, as with Mr Hampton and other British Gas directors, he receives neither bonuses nor share options.

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