M&S close to settling chairmanship fight

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The Independent Online

Stuart Rose, the chief executive of Marks & Spencer, will meet outside candidates for the chairmanship of the struggling retailer this week, amid signs that boardroom and investor sentiment is swinging behind the present chairman Paul Myners.

Stuart Rose, the chief executive of Marks & Spencer, will meet outside candidates for the chairmanship of the struggling retailer this week, amid signs that boardroom and investor sentiment is swinging behind the present chairman Paul Myners.

M&S is under pressure to wrap up the permanent appointment after a battle that has turned into an unseemly public confrontation between boardroom factions. Mr Rose backs Mr Myners, who holds the post on an interim basis and is keen to remain, while Kevin Lomax, senior non-executive director, has drawn up a list of external candidates. That list is said to be down to a final three, and speculation over the weekend suggested that Lord Burns of Pitshanger tops the trio.

Lord Burns is a former permanent secretary to the Treasury and most recently was chairman of Abbey National, overseeing the bank's takeover by Banco Santander of Spain. He is a non-executive at British Land and Pearson.

Mr Lomax is believed to be keen to install an external candidate to scrutinise Mr Rose, who has established a close relationship with Mr Myners after the pair worked together to fend off the bid attention of Philip Green last year. A new chairman will need to hold Mr Rose to account for the recovery plan promised to the City at the time, and to be prepared to sack him if it falters.

Mr Myners is expected to offer to resign one of his outside appointments, probably his directorship of the Bank of New York, to mollify opponents. Sources say M&S could resolve the chairmanship as early as this week.

It is unclear whether Mr Lomax, who is executive chairman of the software group Misys, would be required to resign if he lost the power struggle, or if he would draw plaudits from fellow non-executives for his efforts to further good corporate governance.

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