Tate & Lyle reshuffle as chief executive quits

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STEPHEN BROWN, chief executive of Tate & Lyle, has left the company after less than 12 months in the pounds 340,000-a-year post because of boardroom differences over management style.

Neil Shaw, who split the roles of chairman and chief executive last April, is to resume the position of executive chairman. The role of chief executive will be performed by an executive management committee of six. New remuneration and appointments, corporate affairs and pension fund committees have also been set up.

'This wasn't done with the Cadbury report uppermost in our mind. But I didn't want the City to think Neil Shaw had become a little dictator,' Mr Shaw said.

Mr Brown was recruited as managing director in spring 1991 from Alcan, the Canadian aluminium group. His contract stipulates the payment of three years' salary for loss of office. This will be honoured in full, said Mr Shaw, who blamed Mr Brown's lack of experience in agriculture.

In June 1992, despite shareholder protests, the company and Mr Brown jointly bought a London home for pounds 900,000, including a pounds 270,000 contribution from the new chief executive. Within six months Mr Brown must vacate it or sell his interest to Tate & Lyle.

Mr Shaw, 63, was brought into Tate & Lyle by his predecessor, Lord Jellicoe, in 1980 when the company was in difficulties. A Canadian, he was the first non-family chief executive.

According to David Lang, food manufacturing analyst at Henderson Crosthwaite: 'Neil Shaw has been a very hard act to follow. He has created a world-class company but also a succession problem.

'Going outside the company was perhaps a mistake. Agribusiness is such a peculiarly difficult area and, faced with seasoned operating managers within Tate & Lyle, Mr Brown does not seem to have imposed his authority.'

In November, Tate & Lyle reported a fall in pre-tax profits from pounds 230.8m to pounds 189.5m for the year to end-September, its first setback for 14 years.

Mr Brown's departure has provoked a rash of boardroom changes. Paul Lewis, group finance director, also becomes deputy chairman. Paul Mirsky is joining the board as managing director of Tate & Lyle's North American sugar division. John Walker takes a board seat as managing director of European sugar.

They will join Mr Shaw and Mr Lewis on the executive management committee along with Stuart Strathdee, new managing director of international activities, and Larry Pillard, president and chief executive of AE Staley, the group's US starch operation.