Non-executives win more power: Survey finds fewer firms combining top jobs

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The Independent Online
NON-EXECUTIVE directors are winning more power in the boardroom, according to a survey of Britain's top companies published today.

The survey by Pro Ned, the Bank of England-backed organisation that promotes the use of independent non-executive directors, found a clear trend away from combining the roles of chairman and chief executive. In the year to the end of May 1993, only one in five of the leading 100 companies - rather than one in four in the previous period - had one person doing both jobs.

The practice is even less common among the next 250 companies - down from 22 per cent to 16 per cent. This trend has been matched by an increase in the number of non-executive chairmen.

At the same time, Pro Ned is urging non-executive directors to be aware of the legal responsibilities, rights and duties involved in this expanding role. In the publication Practical Guide for Non-Executive Directors, the organisation offers practical advice on the job, but also warns of the need to approach it carefully and responsibly.

The report, based on an analysis of the 1991 and 1992 reports and accounts of the top 350 listed companies up to the end of May 1993, also reveals that only 13 of the leading 100 companies still do not have a remuneration committee, while just 12 lack an audit committee.

Since the biggest companies generally set the standard for the others, the group predicts that more than 80 per cent of the next 250 companies will have these committees by the middle of next year.

This group of companies has already reported a marked increase in the use of board committees. Six times as many companies referred to their formation in 1992 as did in 1991.