Accountancy chief takes the wheel at RAC

The motoring services company RAC yesterday announced the appointment of Peter Smith, the former chairman of the accountancy firm Coopers & Lybrand, as its new non-executive chairman after a recent boardroom row left it without a candidate.

Mr Smith will replace Sir Trevor Chinn who has been on the RAC board for 43 years and who has been chairman of the organisation since 1973. He joins the board as deputy chairman on 1 January and takes over from Sir Trevor on 1 May after his retirement at the company's annual meeting in April.

The move follows the sudden resignation of Alan Bowkett, who had been lined up as Sir Trevor's successor, last month. His departure, after just two and a half months with the company, followed a boardroom dispute, blamed on "substantial differences in management approach".

Mr Smith is currently a non-executive director of the merchant bank NM Rothschild, the troubled mutual Equitable Life and the food retailer Safeway.

"We have known Peter for quite some time," Sir Trevor said yesterday. "The blend of Peter's experience in successfully leading a large, professional services company, his excellent corporate governance credentials and his management style, make him an excellent successor."

RAC also said the non-executive director Michael Ost would be leaving the board at the end of the year to head the company's pension scheme.

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