Corbett strengthens his grip as Railtrack finance chief leaves

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The Independent Online

Railtrack yesterday announced the departure of its second senior executive since the Paddington rail crash in October. Norman Broadhurst is to leave his job as finance director, although he will remain an executive director until his retirement next year.

Railtrack yesterday announced the departure of its second senior executive since the Paddington rail crash in October. Norman Broadhurst is to leave his job as finance director, although he will remain an executive director until his retirement next year.

It follows the departure earlier this month of Philip Dewhurst, Railtrack's director of public affairs. Mr Broadhurst, 58, is being replaced by Steven Marshall, former chief executive of the lighting and television rentals group Thorn.

Industry insiders said the move would strengthen the position of Gerald Corbett, Railtrack's chief executive on the board. Mr Broadhurst is the only director of Railtrack to have been a board member since before privatisation.

Moreover, his replacement is an old colleague of Mr Corbett. Mr Marshall, who takes up his new post on 1 December, was finance director of Grand Metropolitan's spirits division, International Distillers and Vintners, when Mr Corbett was overall finance director of Grand Metropolitan.

A Railtrack spokeswoman said the timing of Mr Broadhurst's departure was coincidental and was unconnected with the Paddington crash. She said he had been planning to give up the finance director's job for some time and headhunters has been appointed to find a successor long before Paddington.

Although Mr Corbett and Mr Broadhurst are regarded as a good "double act" in the City, there have been suggestions of tension between the two, given their differing management styles and forthright views.

Until his retirement next summer, Mr Broadhurst will work on the regulatory review of Railtrack's access charges and the arrangements for it to take over London Underground's sub-surface Tube lines, the District, Circle and Metropolitan.

News of Mr Broadhurst's departure helped unsettle Railtrack's share price, which closed 29p or 2.5 per cent lower at 1,121p. Markets were also unsettled by fears that Ken Livingstone, who opposes part-privatisation of the Tube, might win the battle to become London's first mayor. But dealers, said the "Red Ken" factor was only a minor irritant and Railtrack was weighed down mainly by the prospect of a tough review from the Rail Regulator, Tom Winsor. The aim is for Railtrack to sign contracts to take over the three Tube lines before the mayoral elections take place next May, meaning that even if Mr Livingstone was voted in, his opposition would be symbolic.

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