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.

Arts and Entertainment
books
Voices
Caustic she may be, but Joan Rivers is a feminist hero, whether she likes it or not
voicesShe's an inspiration, whether she likes it or not, says Ellen E Jones
Arts and Entertainment
The Doctor and the Dalek meet
tvReview: Doctor Who Into the Dalek more than compensated for last week's nonsensical offering
Sport
Diego Costa
footballEverton 3 Chelsea 6: Diego Costa double has manager purring
PROMOTED VIDEO
Life and Style
3D printed bump keys can access almost any lock
techSoftware needs photo of lock and not much more
Arts and Entertainment
The 'three chords and the truth gal' performing at the Cornbury Music Festival, Oxford, earlier this summer
music... so how did she become country music's hottest new star?
Life and Style
The spy mistress-general: A lecturer in nutritional therapy in her modern life, Heather Rosa favours a Byzantine look topped off with a squid and a schooner
fashionEurope's biggest steampunk convention heads to Lincoln
News
Dr Alice Roberts in front of a
peopleAlice Roberts talks about her new book on evolution - and why her early TV work drew flak from (mostly male) colleagues
News
i100
Arts and Entertainment
Star turns: Montacute House
tv
News
ebooksAn evocation of the conflict through the eyes of those who lived through it
News
i100Steve Carell selling chicken, Tina Fey selling saving accounts and Steve Colbert selling, um...
Arts and Entertainment
Unsettling perspective: Iraq gave Turner a subject and a voice (stock photo)
booksBrian Turner's new book goes back to the bloody battles he fought in Iraq
News
The Digicub app, for young fans
advertisingNSPCC 'extremely concerned'
News
i100
Arts and Entertainment
Some of the key words and phrases to remember
booksA user's guide to weasel words
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

Law Costs

Highly Attractive Salary: Austen Lloyd: BRISTOL - This is a very unusual law c...

Network Engineer (CCNP, CCNA, Linux, OSPF, BGP, Multicast, WAN)

£35000 per annum: Harrington Starr: Network Engineer (CCNP, CCNA, Linux, OSPF,...

DevOps Engineer (Systems Administration, Linux, Shell, Bash)

£50000 per annum: Harrington Starr: DevOps Engineer (Systems Administration, L...

Data Scientist (SQL, PHP, RSPSS, CPLEX, SARS, AI) - London

£60000 - £70000 per annum: Harrington Starr: A prestigious leading professiona...

Day In a Page

The other Mugabe who is lining up for the Zimbabwean presidency

The other Mugabe who is lining up for the Zimbabwean presidency

Wife of President Robert Mugabe appears to have her sights set on succeeding her husband
The model of a gadget launch: Cultivate an atmosphere of mystery and excitement to sell stuff people didn't realise they needed

The model for a gadget launch

Cultivate an atmosphere of mystery and excitement to sell stuff people didn't realise they needed
Alice Roberts: She's done pretty well, for a boffin without a beard

She's done pretty well, for a boffin without a beard

Alice Roberts talks about her new book on evolution - and why her early TV work drew flak from (mostly male) colleagues
Get well soon, Joan Rivers - an inspiration, whether she likes it or not

Get well soon, Joan Rivers

She is awful. But she's also wonderful, not in spite of but because of the fact she's forever saying appalling things, argues Ellen E Jones
Doctor Who Into the Dalek review: A classic sci-fi adventure with all the spectacle of a blockbuster

A fresh take on an old foe

Doctor Who Into the Dalek more than compensated for last week's nonsensical offering
Fashion walks away from the celebrity runway show

Fashion walks away from the celebrity runway show

As the collections start, fashion editor Alexander Fury finds video and the internet are proving more attractive
Meet the stars of TV's Wolf Hall... and it's not the cast of the Tudor trilogy

Meet the stars of TV's Wolf Hall...

... and it's not the cast of the Tudor trilogy
Weekend at the Asylum: Europe's biggest steampunk convention heads to Lincoln

Europe's biggest steampunk convention

Jake Wallis Simons discovers how Victorian ray guns and the martial art of biscuit dunking are precisely what the 21st century needs
Don't swallow the tripe – a user's guide to weasel words

Don't swallow the tripe – a user's guide to weasel words

Lying is dangerous and unnecessary. A new book explains the strategies needed to avoid it. John Rentoul on the art of 'uncommunication'
Daddy, who was Richard Attenborough? Was the beloved thespian the last of the cross-generation stars?

Daddy, who was Richard Attenborough?

The atomisation of culture means that few of those we regard as stars are universally loved any more, says DJ Taylor
She's dark, sarcastic, and bashes life in Nowheresville ... so how did Kacey Musgraves become country music's hottest new star?

Kacey Musgraves: Nashville's hottest new star

The singer has two Grammys for her first album under her belt and her celebrity fans include Willie Nelson, Ryan Adams and Katy Perry
American soldier-poet Brian Turner reveals the enduring turmoil that inspired his memoir

Soldier-poet Brian Turner on his new memoir

James Kidd meets the prize-winning writer, whose new memoir takes him back to the bloody battles he fought in Iraq
Aston Villa vs Hull match preview: Villa were not surprised that Ron Vlaar was a World Cup star

Villa were not surprised that Vlaar was a World Cup star

Andi Weimann reveals just how good his Dutch teammate really is
Bill Granger recipes: Our chef ekes out his holiday in Italy with divine, simple salads

Bill Granger's simple Italian salads

Our chef presents his own version of Italian dishes, taking in the flavours and produce that inspired him while he was in the country
The Last Word: Tumbleweed through deserted stands and suites at Wembley

The Last Word: Tumbleweed through deserted stands and suites at Wembley

If supporters begin to close bank accounts, switch broadband suppliers or shun satellite sales, their voices will be heard. It’s time for revolution