The boardroom crisis at the public relations group Huntsworth has deepened after the City grandee Lord Myners, who was brought in to steady the business in April, abruptly quit as chairman after barely six months.
Company insiders said they were shocked. Huntsworth was already in limbo after the chief executive Lord Chadlington announced in August he would be stepping down amid reports of boardroom unrest over his pay and disappointing growth.
Lord Myners, the former Labour City minister, was meant to be recruiting a successor to Lord Chadlington, a Tory donor and close friend of David Cameron. Huntsworth said: “The time commitment required for this role has proved to be more than Lord Myners envisaged and it is considered appropriate that a new chairman should take the lead on the appointment of a new chief executive.”
Lord Chadlington, 72, dismissed suggestions of any tension with Lord Myners.However, well-placed industry insiders told The Independent they were surprised to discover Lord Chadlington had played an active part in approaching potential candidates for the chief executive’s role. That is unusual given that the search for a new chief executive is usually carried out by the independent directors and headhunters.
A friend of Lord Chadlington said he was not leading the search and had only helped the Huntsworth board’s nominations committee to draw up a longlist of candidates and sound out contenders.
This is the second time that Lord Myners has resigned from a leading City role, after quitting as senior independent director of Co-operative Group in April after just four months. He claimed governance standards at the Co-op were “shocking”.
Lord Myners is well used to juggling multiple roles, including as chairman of Marks and Spencer and Guardian Media Group simultaneously.
Huntsworth said that an “announcement regarding a new chairman will be made as soon as possible”.
The boardroom chaos will increase speculation about Huntsworth’s future.
The Chinese group Blue Focus owns a near-20 per cent stake, while Huntsworth’s senior independent director Terence Graunke is a leading figure at the private equity firm Lake Capital, which recently bought the UK marketing firm Engine Group. The public relations guru Matthew Freud also recently bought a small shareholding.
To add to Huntsworth’s woes, its chief operating officer Sally Withey has been off sick for much of the year. The company’s shares fell by 1 per cent to 48p.Reuse content