Frenchman replaces Moffat at Corus

Troubled steel giant hires Pechiney chief after high-profile union campaign claims chairman's scalp

Corus, the embattled Anglo-Dutch steel maker, yesterday hired a new chief executive on a £1.7m pay package and yielded to employee and shareholder pressure by replacing its much-criticised chairman, Sir Brian Moffat.

The new chief executive is the Frenchman Philippe Varin, a metals industry veteran who has spent the past 25 years with the aluminium producer Pechiney. He replaces Tony Pedder who was ousted last month after the sale of the group's own aluminium business, ironically enough to Pechiney, was blocked by Corus's Dutch supervisory board.

Sir Brian, meanwhile, will retire as chairman at the end of next month after a high-profile union campaign for his removal. He will be replaced by Corus's deputy chairmen, Jim Leng. M. Varin, 50, made it clear that he still intended to press ahead with the disposal of Corus's aluminium business.

He also indicated that the group would be open to merger offers once it had tackled the immediate problems of its loss-making UK carbon steels division and the refinancing of its debt.

Corus is due to set out more details at next week's annual shareholders' meeting of the plant closures and job cuts it intends to implement to bring its UK operations back into profit. There are fears that 3,000 jobs and one of its three remaining integrated steel plants will be axed.

M. Varin will receive £690,000 in salary, a £207,000 pension contribution and a guaranteed first-year bonus of £140,000. In addition he will receive £550,000 compensation for giving up his share options in Pechiney and 1.1 million Corus shares worth £100,000 provided he buys the same number of shares out of his own money. He will also be entitled to 3.3 million share options which will be exercisable only if he retains his 1.1 million ordinary shares in the company.

The main steel union, the ISTC, described the appointments of M. Varin and Mr Leng as "much needed and welcome".

Michael Leahy, the union's general secretary, said Corus had been "crying out for new blood at the top", adding that the departure of Sir Brian marked an opportunity to forge a new culture of partnership and respect.

Corus is understood to have held discussions in recent weeks about a possible merger with both LNM, the steel company owned by the controversial Labour Party donor Lakshmi Mittal, and CSN, the Brazilian company it had planned to take over last year.

Asked whether Corus would seek a merger partner under his leadership, M. Varin, said: "I wouldn't exclude such developments in future but it is not the priority at present." As for whether Corus would seek another buyer for its aluminium business after the £543m sale of the business to Pechiney fell through in March, M. Varin said: "Corus has taken a very clear decision to focus on carbon steels and there is no reason to change that position."

M. Varin is married with four children and is a graduate of France's elite Ecole Polytechnique. He will relocate from Paris to London when he formally takes up the post on 1 May. He has been with Pechiney since 1978, his last job being senior executive vice-president.

"Whilst I do not underestimate the challenge ahead, I believe that with the right leadership and commitment Corus can become united, internationally competitive and profitable," he said.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
ebooks
ebooksAn introduction to the ground rules of British democracy
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
SPONSORED FEATURES
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs Money & Business

Recruitment Genius: Collections Agent

£14000 - £16000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This company was established in...

SThree: Trainee Recruitment Consultant

£20000 - £25000 per annum + OTE 40k: SThree: SThree are a global FTSE 250 busi...

SThree: Trainee Recruitment Consultant

£20000 - £25000 per annum + competitive: SThree: SThree are a global FTSE 250 ...

Reach Volunteering: Trustees with Finance, Fundraising and IT skills

Voluntary and unpaid, reasonable expenses reimbursable: Reach Volunteering: St...

Day In a Page

Isis profits from destruction of antiquities by selling relics to dealers - and then blowing up the buildings they come from to conceal the evidence of looting

How Isis profits from destruction of antiquities

Robert Fisk on the terrorist group's manipulation of the market to increase the price of artefacts
Labour leadership: Andy Burnham urges Jeremy Corbyn voters to think again in last-minute plea

'If we lose touch we’ll end up with two decades of the Tories'

In an exclusive interview, Andy Burnham urges Jeremy Corbyn voters to think again in last-minute plea
Tunisia fears its Arab Spring could be reversed as the new regime becomes as intolerant of dissent as its predecessor

The Arab Spring reversed

Tunisian protesters fear that a new law will whitewash corrupt businessmen and officials, but they are finding that the new regime is becoming as intolerant of dissent as its predecessor
King Arthur: Legendary figure was real and lived most of his life in Strathclyde, academic claims

Academic claims King Arthur was real - and reveals where he lived

Dr Andrew Breeze says the legendary figure did exist – but was a general, not a king
Who is Oliver Bonas and how has he captured middle-class hearts?

Who is Oliver Bonas?

It's the first high-street store to pay its staff the living wage, and it saw out the recession in style
Earth has 'lost more than half its trees' since humans first started cutting them down

Axe-wielding Man fells half the world’s trees – leaving us just 422 each

However, the number of trees may be eight times higher than previously thought
60 years of Scalextric: Model cars are now stuffed with as much tech as real ones

60 years of Scalextric

Model cars are now stuffed with as much tech as real ones
Theme parks continue to draw in thrill-seekers despite the risks - so why are we so addicted?

Why are we addicted to theme parks?

Now that Banksy has unveiled his own dystopian version, Christopher Beanland considers the ups and downs of our endless quest for amusement
Tourism in Iran: The country will soon be opening up again after years of isolation

Iran is opening up again to tourists

After years of isolation, Iran is reopening its embassies abroad. Soon, there'll be the chance for the adventurous to holiday there
10 best PS4 games

10 best PS4 games

Can’t wait for the new round of blockbusters due out this autumn? We played through last year’s offering
Transfer window: Ten things we learnt

Ten things we learnt from the transfer window

Record-breaking spending shows FFP restraint no longer applies
Migrant crisis: UN official Philippe Douste-Blazy reveals the harrowing sights he encountered among refugees arriving on Lampedusa

‘Can we really just turn away?’

Dead bodies, men drowning, women miscarrying – a senior UN figure on the horrors he has witnessed among migrants arriving on Lampedusa, and urges politicians not to underestimate our caring nature
Nine of Syria and Iraq's 10 world heritage sites are in danger as Isis ravages centuries of history

Nine of Syria and Iraq's 10 world heritage sites are in danger...

... and not just because of Isis vandalism
Girl on a Plane: An exclusive extract of the novelisation inspired by the 1970 Palestinian fighters hijack

Girl on a Plane

An exclusive extract of the novelisation inspired by the 1970 Palestinian fighters hijack
Why Frederick Forsyth's spying days could spell disaster for today's journalists

Why Frederick Forsyth's spying days could spell disaster for today's journalists

The author of 'The Day of the Jackal' has revealed he spied for MI6 while a foreign correspondent