UK utility groups appoint new faces to replace their outgoing finance directors

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The Independent Online

Two oF the UK's biggest utility groups yesterday named replacements for their outgoing finance directors.

Two oF the UK's biggest utility groups yesterday named replacements for their outgoing finance directors.

ScottishPower promoted David Nish, one of the masterminds behind its £4bn takeover of the US's PacifiCorp, to the board as finance director. Seperately, United Utilities, the water and electricity group, named Simon Batey, formerly of the construction group Amec, as its new group finance director.

Mr Nish, 39, will take on his role with immediate effect as Ian Russell sheds half of his dual position as deputy chief executive and finance director. Mr Russell is widely tipped as the eventual successor to the group's chief executive, Ian Robinson. Mr Russell will now be responsible for the company's UK and US operations.

Mr Nish, currently deputy finance director, is expected to see his salary bumped up to at least £200,000 in line with the rest of the board. He joined the group in 1997 in his current position and, alongside Mr Russell, was one of the main players in the PacifiCorp deal and in the successful flotation of Thus, ScottishPower's telecoms arm.

Mr Batey, 46, will join United on 1 April next year, replacing Bob Ferguson who announced his retirement at the group's annual meeting in July. Mr Batey was appointed as Amec's group finance director in 1992 after serving five years as deputy finance director.

John Roberts, United's chief executive, said Mr Batey's experience in the construction industry was "highly relevant" for the group's £3.5bn five-year capital investment programme, which is due to start next year. Mr Batey will have a hands-on role in the programme, which is aimed at improving water and electricity services to the group's customers in the North-west. United is facing growing competition from larger rivals such as Centrica and ScottishPower. It is also under pressure by industry regulators to cut power and water bills for its customers. The company last week said it was not cutting its dividend, but it plans to follow its rivals and cut jobs.