Myners takes role at leading firm of "active investors"

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The Independent Online

A year after leaving office as minister for the City, Lord Myners is to become a partner and chairman in a leading City firm of "active investors".

Cevian Capital, Europe's largest active ownership fund manager, is a so-called "hybrid" or "strategic block investor", which has a more active approach to its equity stakes than a traditional pension fund.

Lord Myners said: "For much of the last decade I have highlighted issues within the investment industry that have led to the proliferation of ownerless corporations. These issues include short-termism, overly-diversified portfolios and a preference for investors to vote with their feet, rather than engage with companies.

"Over the last few years many institutional investors have become better owners of their companies, but there are structural challenges that constrain such behaviour. I have held Cevian in high regard for some time, after coming to know them from governance circles."

His remuneration is not disclosed. Although within the relevant rules, the question of former misters joining parts of the private sector previously covered by their departments remains a fraught one.

Ennobled by Gordon Brown to serve in the Treasury as one of the "goats" (after Mr Brown's "government of all the talents"), Paul Myners was well known in City circles, most prominently by leading Gartmore as chairman from 1987 to 2001.

A well-established member of the "great and the good", Lord Myners has served on the Court of the Bank of England and the Takeover Panel. The Myners report called for more active shareholder involvement in corporate governance.

His time as City minister was sometimes controversial. He was accused of not doing enough about the pay and pension benefits enjoyed by Sir Fred Goodwin after the bank was effectively nationalised. The Treasury Select Committee concluded: "We suspect that Lord Myners' City background, and naiveté as to the public perception of these matters, may have led him to place too much trust in an RBS board that he himself described to us as 'distinguished'."

The peer has also been criticised for his chairmanship of Aspen Insurance Holdings, a Bermuda-based firm which avoided paying more than £100 million a year in UK tax, and his links to other offshore operations.

Lord Myners said of such criticism: "I am fully domiciled in the UK for tax purposes. I have always paid the right amount of UK tax – in some cases I have also paid additional tax in the source country."

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