Compass hires former Onetel head

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The Independent Online

Compass, the catering giant trying to put a bribery scandal behind it, has filled the gap in its UK business left when it fired Peter Harris last autumn for his role in the affair.

The group has hired the former head of Centrica's phone company Onetel, Ian El-Mokadem, as chief executive of its UK and Ireland division. The former telecoms executive will start work on 8 May, taking over from Trevor Biggs, the executive director of specialist markets who was temporarily filling the post.

The appointment completes the group's executive clear-out after the most tortuous period in its history as an independent company. It is still embroiled in an US investigation into how its ESS division obtained lucrative United Nations contracts in Liberia. Sir Roy Gardner, who first hired Mr Mokadem at Centrica, has replaced Sir Francis Mackay as chairman, and Richard Cousins is soon to succeed Mike Bailey as chief executive. Compass shares rose 4.5p to 243.75p yesterday.

Mr Mokadem, 38, will take control of the group's most challenging region. On top of bad publicity about its school meals division, led by the celebrity chef Jamie Oliver, the UK unit has seen profit margins squeezed.

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