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
PROMOTED VIDEO
ebooks
ebooksA special investigation by Andy McSmith
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

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

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs Money & Business

Recruitment Genius: Compliance Assistant

£13000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This Pension Specialist was established ...

Ashdown Group: Market Research Executive

£23000 - £26000 per annum + Benefits: Ashdown Group: Market Research Executive...

Recruitment Genius: Technical Report Writer

£25000 - £35000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A Technical Report Writer is re...

MBDA UK Ltd: Indirect Procurement Category Manager

Competitive salary & benefits!: MBDA UK Ltd: MBDA UK LTD Indirect Procurement...

Day In a Page

Isis hostage crisis: The prisoner swap has only one purpose for the militants - recognition its Islamic State exists and that foreign nations acknowledge its power

Isis hostage crisis

The prisoner swap has only one purpose for the militants - recognition its Islamic State exists and that foreign nations acknowledge its power, says Robert Fisk
Homeless Veterans appeal: ‘If you’re hard on the world you are hard on yourself’

Homeless Veterans appeal: ‘If you’re hard on the world you are hard on yourself’

Maverick artist Grayson Perry backs our campaign
Missing salvage expert who found $50m of sunken treasure before disappearing, tracked down at last

The runaway buccaneers and the ship full of gold

Salvage expert Tommy Thompson found sunken treasure worth millions. Then he vanished... until now
Assisted Dying Bill: I want to be able to decide about my own death - I want to have control of my life

Assisted Dying Bill: 'I want control of my life'

This week the Assisted Dying Bill is debated in the Lords. Virginia Ironside, who has already made plans for her own self-deliverance, argues that it's time we allowed people a humane, compassionate death
Move over, kale - cabbage is the new rising star

Cabbage is king again

Sophie Morris banishes thoughts of soggy school dinners and turns over a new leaf
11 best winter skin treats

Give your moisturiser a helping hand: 11 best winter skin treats

Get an extra boost of nourishment from one of these hard-working products
Isis hostage crisis: Militant group stands strong as its numerous enemies fail to find a common plan to defeat it

Isis stands strong as its numerous enemies fail to find a common plan to defeat it

The jihadis are being squeezed militarily and economically, but there is no sign of an implosion, says Patrick Cockburn
Virtual reality thrusts viewers into the frontline of global events - and puts film-goers at the heart of the action

Virtual reality: Seeing is believing

Virtual reality thrusts viewers into the frontline of global events - and puts film-goers at the heart of the action
Homeless Veterans appeal: MP says Coalition ‘not doing enough’

Homeless Veterans appeal

MP says Coalition ‘not doing enough’ to help
Larry David, Steve Coogan and other comedians share stories of depression in new documentary

Comedians share stories of depression

The director of the new documentary, Kevin Pollak, tells Jessica Barrett how he got them to talk
Has The Archers lost the plot with it's spicy storylines?

Has The Archers lost the plot?

A growing number of listeners are voicing their discontent over the rural soap's spicy storylines; so loudly that even the BBC's director-general seems worried, says Simon Kelner
English Heritage adds 14 post-war office buildings to its protected lists

14 office buildings added to protected lists

Christopher Beanland explores the underrated appeal of these palaces of pen-pushing
Human skull discovery in Israel proves humans lived side-by-side with Neanderthals

Human skull discovery in Israel proves humans lived side-by-side with Neanderthals

Scientists unearthed the cranial fragments from Manot Cave in West Galilee
World War Z author Max Brooks honours WW1's Harlem Hellfighters in new graphic novel

Max Brooks honours Harlem Hellfighters

The author talks about race, legacy and his Will Smith film option to Tim Walker
Why the league system no longer measures up

League system no longer measures up

Jon Coles, former head of standards at the Department of Education, used to be in charge of school performance rankings. He explains how he would reform the system