Salvesen shakes up top team ahead of break-up

Christian Salvesen, the Edinburgh-based conglomerate facing attack for its radical break-up proposals, yesterday announced that Sir Alick Rankin was to step down as chairman, with chief executive Chris Masters moving over to head up the smaller Aggreko hire business.

The moves came as it emerged that rebel shareholders led by the former chairman, Sir Gerald Elliot, were ready to put up a rival management team led by a "heavy hitter" to replace the present incumbents.

Mr Masters last night dismissed any suggestion that the top-level changes had been prompted by Sir Gerald's campaign to scupper plans to spin off Aggreko and pay a pounds 150m special dividend. He said it had been well known since early last year that Sir Alick was due to step down at the annual meeting in July.

He also brushed aside any idea that he was being demoted when he left the helm of the larger group. "I am totally and utterly confident and happy with having been offered and accepted the position of executive chairman of Aggreko," he said.

There had been no pressure from the Elliot camp. "We have had no institutions expressing concern over the demerger to us. Gerald took the business public. He has a viewpoint. He seems to be a fan of conglomerates. He seems to believe that under no circumstances should companies return cash to shareholders. I happen to disagree with that."

Sir Gerald refused to comment on yesterday's changes. He will not name his alternative management team until Salvesen comes up with a date for the extraordinary general meeting to approve the proposals, rumoured to be set for 13 March, with the document to shareholders said to be ready to go out on 17 February.

Sir Gerald, who is a member of the founding Salvesen family which still owns 37 per cent of the group, has brought in Sutherlands, an Edinburgh stockbroker, and Quayle Munro, a boutique corporate finance house also based in the Scottish capital, to back his campaign.

The changes at Salvesen will see Sir Alick being replaced by Jonathan Fry, a non-executive director who is currently chief executive of Burmah Castrol.Edward Roderick is to become chief executive of the rump Salvesen business of transport and frozen vegetable processing. Mr Roderick only joined the group last year as managing director of the industrial division of Salvesen Logistics.

Ironically he joined from Hays, the group whose abortive pounds 1.1bn bid last summer triggered the move to break up the company as an attempt to assuage shareholders' concerns about the poor performance of Salvesen's shares.

David York, who has been with Aggreko since its formation in 1973, moves up to become managing director, while Ian Adam remains as finance director of the Salvesen rump.

The rebels remain confident they have a sympathetic ear from big shareholders. A spokesman said: "Sir Gerald has been well received by the institutions, some of whom have been critical of the management and its proposals."

But many still remain to be convinced, even in Scotland. One of the bigger institutional shareholders said this week: "My view is that Elliot has not proposed anything of substance which makes me want to reject the board's proposals."

Another said: "On balance, mine is still a supportive view, but I would like to see what Salvesen comes up with." He said the crucial issue was how the new companies proposed to handle the extra debt taken on as a result of the special dividend payouts.

Another observer was more robust, describing Sir Gerald as "one of the old-style Edinburgh mafia who wants to go backwards in time".

Suggested Topics
Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
ebooksAn introduction to the ground rules of British democracy
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs Money & Business

SThree: Trainee Recruitment Consulant

£20000 - £25000 per annum + competitive: SThree: SThree are a global FTSE 250...

Guru Careers: Financial Controller

£45 - £55k DOE: Guru Careers: A Financial Controller is required to join a suc...

Recruitment Genius: Sales Consultant / Telemarketer - OTE £20,000

£12500 - £20000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Scotland's leading life insuran...

Recruitment Genius: Sales Adviser - OTE £24,500

£22500 - £24500 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Inbound and outbound calls with...

Day In a Page

Mullah Omar, creator of the Taliban, is dead... for the fourth time

Mullah Omar, creator of the Taliban, is dead... again

I was once told that intelligence services declare their enemies dead to provoke them into popping up their heads and revealing their location, says Robert Fisk
Margaret Attwood on climate change: 'Time is running out for our fragile, Goldilocks planet'

Margaret Attwood on climate change

The author looks back on what she wrote about oil in 2009, and reflects on how the conversation has changed in a mere six years
New Dr Seuss manuscript discovered: What Pet Should I Get? goes on sale this week

New Dr Seuss manuscript discovered

What Pet Should I Get? goes on sale this week
Oculus Rift and the lonely cartoon hedgehog who could become the first ever virtual reality movie star

The cartoon hedgehog leading the way into a whole new reality

Virtual reality is the 'next chapter' of entertainment. Tim Walker gives it a try
Ants have unique ability to switch between individual and collective action, says study

Secrets of ants' teamwork revealed

The insects have an almost unique ability to switch between individual and collective action
Donovan interview: The singer is releasing a greatest hits album to mark his 50th year in folk

Donovan marks his 50th year in folk

The singer tells Nick Duerden about receiving death threats, why the world is 'mentally ill', and how he can write a song about anything, from ecology to crumpets
Let's Race simulator: Ultra-realistic technology recreates thrill of the Formula One circuit

Simulator recreates thrill of F1 circuit

Rory Buckeridge gets behind the wheel and explains how it works
Twitter accused of 'Facebookisation' over plans to overhaul reverse-chronological timeline

Twitter accused of 'Facebookisation'

Facebook exasperates its users by deciding which posts they can and can’t see. So why has Twitter announced plans to do the same?
Jane Birkin asks Hermès to rename bag - but what else could the fashion house call it?

Jane Birkin asks Hermès to rename bag

The star was shocked by a Peta investigation into the exotic skins trade
10 best waterproof mascaras

Whatever the weather: 10 best waterproof mascaras

We found lash-enhancing beauties that won’t budge no matter what you throw at them
Diego Costa biography: Chelsea striker's route to the top - from those who shared his journey

Diego Costa: I go to war. You come with me...

Chelsea's rampaging striker had to fight his way from a poor city in Brazil to life at the top of the Premier League. A new book speaks to those who shared his journey
Ashes 2015: England show the mettle to strike back hard in third Test

England show the mettle to strike back hard in third Test

The biggest problem facing them in Birmingham was the recovery of the zeitgeist that drained so quickly under the weight of Australian runs at Lord's, says Kevin Garside
Women's Open 2015: Charley Hull - 'I know I'm a good golfer but I'm also just a person'

Charley Hull: 'I know I'm a good golfer but I'm also just a person'

British teen keeps her feet on ground ahead of Women's Open
Turkey's conflict with Kurdish guerrillas in Iraq can benefit Isis in Syria

Turkey's conflict with Kurdish guerrillas in Iraq can benefit Isis in Syria

Turkish President Erdogan could benefit politically from the targeting of the PKK, says Patrick Cockburn
Yvette Cooper: Our choice is years of Tory rule under Jeremy Corbyn or a return to a Labour government

Our choice is years of Tory rule under Corbyn or a return to a Labour government

Yvette Cooper urged Labour members to 'get serious' about the next general election rather than become 'a protest movement'