Britain’s oldest roadside assistance group, the RAC, is to draft in four business heavyweights including Sir Mike Rake, president of the CBI, as its private equity owner, Carlyle, beefs up the board ahead of a £2bn float.
Sir Mike, who counts roles at BT and Barclays on a lengthy CV, will replace former Debenhams boss Rob Templeman as chairman of the 117-year-old organisation.
Mr Templeman will stay on the board as a non-executive, alongside Moneysupermarket boss Peter Plumb and advertising supremo Cilla Snowball, head of the agency AMV BBDO.
Meanwhile David Lowden will be the RAC’s senior independent director after a career that has included directorships at Michael Page and William Hill, as well as a stint running the data company Taylor Nelson Sofres.
“RAC has a powerful brand and an exciting future,” Sir Mike said. “It is trusted by over eight million members and the significant investment that has gone into the business over the past three years positions RAC for continuing growth.”
The new recruits will work alongside the RAC’s chief executive, Chris Woodhouse, the architect of Carlyle’s £1bn takeover of the company from Aviva in 2011.
Mr Woodhouse said: “Sir Mike brings a new and fresh perspective to RAC as well as significant business acumen. He adds unparalleled board experience as we enter the next stage of our development.”
The RAC is thought to have held preliminary talks with potential investors ahead of a stock market listing, which remains Carlyle’s preferred exit, even though it is understood to have sounded out potential buyers.
In a flotation the RAC’s 8.2 million members could be given a chance to buy shares alongside City institutions.
Senior RAC executives including Mr Woodhouse and Mr Templeman are likely to share £300m in a float, having overseen a big improvement in the company’s performance since it was sold by Aviva. Revenues rose 6 per cent to £485m last year with underlying earnings of £152m, up from £137m in 2012.
Its rival AA suffered a setback last week when its chief executive, Chris Jansen, quit after less than eight months in the job. Finance director Andy Boland is also leaving.
Rake’s progress Sir Mike’s career
In a career spanning more than 40 years, Sir Mike Rake – BT chairman and president of the CBI – is no stranger to the inside of Britain’s biggest boardrooms, and has done his share of firefighting. A chartered accountant who began his career in the late 1960s, he rose to head KPMG’s UK business in the 1990s and has sat on numerous government taskforces. As deputy chairman of Barclays he helped to the bank through the Libor fixing scandal of 2012, although he turned down the chairmanship. Last year he stepped down as chairman of the airline easyJet after three years of battles with major shareholder Sir Stelios Haji-Ioannu, who repeatedly tried to oust him.