PowerGen succession battle begins as Wallis set to depart

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The Independent Online
The management succession at PowerGen was thrown into the melting pot yesterday after its executive chairman Ed Wallis was named as the next chairman of the car components group LucasVarity.

Michael Harrison assesses what the appointment means for the two companies.

Mr Wallis will take over as non-executive chairman of LucasVarity next May, succeeding Sir Brian Pearse the former banker who led Lucas into its merger with Varity a year ago.

Although Mr Wallis will continue in his present role at PowerGen, the appointment is bound to increase speculation about who will take over when he eventually relinquishes executive responsibilities at the electricity generator.

The front-runner would appear to be Deryk King who was brought in from ICI as managing director of PowerGen 18 months ago. That appointment prompted the departure of John Rennocks, who was finance director at the time.

It was being stressed yesterday that Mr Wallis has no intention of easing down from his executive duties in the foreseeable future, nor was management succession an issue for the PowerGen board. However, Mr Wallis's decision to accept a chairmanship outside the group was seen as a further endorsement of Mr King's ability to run the group on a day to day basis.

Mr Wallis has led PowerGen since its privatisation in 1991 and has overseen its expansion overseas in the face of growing competition from independent generators at home and the refusal of the last Government to allow it to purchase a regional electricity company.

Recently he has renewed his appeal to be allowed to buy a Rec, warning the new Government that unless a handful of strong integrated power suppliers are allowed to develop then the liberalisation of the domestic electricity market next year could be "stillborn".