A. B. Marshall

P&O's managing director in the eventful 1970s

A. B. Marshall was a big beast of the jungle that was the British shipping industry of the 1970s, and one of those responsible for keeping P&O intact at a difficult time in its history.

Alexander Badenoch Marshall, shipping director and businessman: born Dunfermline, Fife 31 December 1924; general manager, British India Steam Navigation 1959-62; managing director, Trident Tankers 1962-68; director, Peninsular and Oriental Steam Navigation 1968-79, managing director 1972-79; vice-chairman, Maersk 1983-87, chairman 1987-93; chairman, Bestobell 1979-85; chairman, Commercial Union Assurance 1983-90; vice-chairman, Boots 1985-91; President, Chamber of Shipping of UK 1994-95; married 1961 Mona Kirk (two sons, one daughter); died Sutton, Surrey 12 January 2005.

A. B. Marshall was a big beast of the jungle that was the British shipping industry of the 1970s, and one of those responsible for keeping P&O intact at a difficult time in its history.

As a comparatively junior executive member of the P&O board, Marshall led the revolt that overturned the hostile assault on the shipping firm by the Bovis Construction company in 1972. Ford Geddes, P&O's chairman, had proposed that the company should take over Bovis Construction. With Frank Sanderson, Bovis's chairman and chief executive, set to become co-chairman of P&O, the proposal was in effect a reverse takeover. The board was split and much of the conflict between the two sides was conducted through the media.

Marshall bravely put his job and his future on the line. But he had a powerful ally - Kenneth Mackay, the third Earl of Inchcape, himself a non-executive of P&O and chairman of the family firm, Inchcape plc. An eventful City saga ensued, with Marshall writing to every shareholder in an attempt to galvanise support. The affair reached a climax at an extraordinary general meeting at the Chartered Insurance Institute Hall. Geddes's proposal was substantially voted down and he was forced to resign.

Inchcape then became chairman of P&O with Sandy Marshall his chief executive. The partnership lasted seven years, during which time Marshall was instrumental in the successful acquisition of Bovis, in 1974. But the partnership ended in tears. Marshall lost the confidence of his board and in 1979 he returned from a ship launch in Bergen to find no job, no secretary and virtually no desk.

He was saved partly by the greatest shipping magnate of the 20th century (and, indeed, the 21st so far): Maersk McKinney Møller, of Denmark, who gave him a seat on the Maersk UK board, where Marshall served for 15 years, from 1987 to 1993 as chairman. From that position he was elected President of the Chamber of Shipping in 1994 (a post he had been due to take up in 1980 but prevented by the knives of P&O and Overseas Containers Ltd).

At the same time Marshall embarked on a distinguished business career, becoming chairman of the engineering company Bestobell in time to fight off yet another takeover, as well as chairman of Commercial Union and vice-chairman of Boots.

Alexander Badenoch Marshall was born on New Year's Eve 1924, the son of a Dunfermline solicitor and First World War hero, and educated at Dunfermline High School, Croftinloan Preparatory School and Trinity College, Glenalmond. He went up to Worcester College, Oxford, in Trinity Term 1942; he wanted to fit in four terms at Oxford before joining the Navy. His naval service - as midshipman and sub-lieutenant - was almost entirely in the destroyer Oribi, supporting the Normandy landings and escorting troopships in the Atlantic and merchant ships on the merciless Russian convoys to Murmansk. He returned to Worcester in Michaelmas 1946, reading Political Science and gaining a war degree.

He joined the firm of MacKinnon MacKenzie, managing agents of the British India Steam Navigation Company and agents for P&O, in Calcutta in 1947. After 13 years in India he was given the opportunity to start from scratch a new tanker company within P&O, Trident Tankers. Its success led to his joining the P&O board in 1968 as its first executive director.

The story of the Bovis/P&O "takeover" is well told in Marshall's autobiography, Taking the Adventure (2000), and the "ABM Archives" are now deposited in the National Maritime Museum, where they will make fascinating research for any shipping historian. Marshall's achievements led to an offer of appointment as CBE in 1993. Anticipating a knighthood, he unwisely turned it down.

In the same year, cancer was diagnosed. For 11 years Marshall endured marvellous treatment from the Royal Marsden. He was determined to make his 80th on 31 December, which he did, though sadly he was not well enough to attend the dinner party downstairs.

Patrick Shovelton

Suggested Topics
News
people
Arts and Entertainment
Joel Edgerton, John Turturro and Christian Bale in Exodus: Gods and Kings
filmDirector said film would 'never have been financed' with ethnic minority actors in key roles
News
people
Sport
footballArsenal 2 Borussia Dortmund 0: And they can still top the group
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
ebooksNow available in paperback
Arts and Entertainment
An unseen image of Kurt Cobain at home featured in the film 'Kurt Cobain: Montage of Heck'
film
News
Andy Murray with his girlfriend of nine years, Kim Sears who he has got engaged to
peopleWimbledon champion announces engagement to girlfriend Kim Sears
Arts and Entertainment
Jake Quickenden and Edwina Currie are joining the I'm A Celebrity...Get Me Out Of Here! camp
tv
Arts and Entertainment
George Mpanga has been shortlisted for the Critics’ Choice prize
music
News
Albert Camus (left) and Jean-Paul Sartre fell out in 1952 and did not speak again before Camus’s death
people
Arts and Entertainment
Roisin, James and Sanjay in the boardroom
tvReview: This week's failing project manager had to go
News
Ed Miliband visiting the Holocaust museum in Jerusalem. The Labour leader has spoken more openly of his heritage recently
newsAttacks on the Labour leader have coalesced around a sense that he is different, weird, a man apart. But are the barbs more sinister?
Arts and Entertainment
'Felfie' (2014) by Alison Jackson
photographyNew exhibition shows how female creatives are changing the way women are portrayed in advertising
News
i100
Life and Style
Fright night: the board game dates back to at least 1890
life
Environment
The vaquita is being killed by fishermen trying to catch the totoaba fish, which is prized in China
environmentJust 97 of the 'world's cutest' sea mammals remain
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

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

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Chief Engineer

£50000 - £55000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A Chief Engineer is required to...

Recruitment Genius: Web Marketing Specialist

Negotiable: Recruitment Genius: One of the UK's leading Renewable Energy compa...

Ashdown Group: Data Warehouse & Business Intelligence Co-ordinator

£35000 per annum: Ashdown Group: Required skills include SQL querying, SSRS, u...

Ashdown Group: C#.Net Developer - C#, ASP.Net, PHP, HTML, JavaScript, CSS

£30000 - £35000 per annum: Ashdown Group: C#.Net Developer - C#, ASP.Net, HTML...

Day In a Page

Cameron, Miliband and Clegg join forces for Homeless Veterans campaign

Cameron, Miliband and Clegg join forces for Homeless Veterans campaign

It's in all our interests to look after servicemen and women who fall on hard times, say party leaders
Millionaire Sol Campbell wades into wealthy backlash against Labour's mansion tax

Sol Campbell cries foul at Labour's mansion tax

The former England defender joins Myleene Klass, Griff Rhys Jones and Melvyn Bragg in criticising proposals
Nicolas Sarkozy returns: The ex-President is preparing to fight for the leadership of France's main opposition party – but will he win big enough?

Sarkozy returns

The ex-President is preparing to fight for the leadership of France's main opposition party – but will he win big enough?
Is the criticism of Ed Miliband a coded form of anti-Semitism?

Is the criticism of Miliband anti-Semitic?

Attacks on the Labour leader have coalesced around a sense that he is different, weird, a man apart. But is the criticism more sinister?
Ouija boards are the must-have gift this Christmas, fuelled by a schlock horror film

Ouija boards are the must-have festive gift

Simon Usborne explores the appeal - and mysteries - of a century-old parlour game
There's a Good Girl exhibition: How female creatives are changing the way women are portrayed in advertising

In pictures: There's a Good Girl exhibition

The new exhibition reveals how female creatives are changing the way women are portrayed in advertising
UK firm Biscuiteers is giving cookies a makeover - from advent calendars to doll's houses

UK firm Biscuiteers is giving cookies a makeover

It worked with cupcakes, doughnuts and macarons so no wonder someone decided to revamp the humble biscuit
Can SkySaga capture the Minecraft magic?

Can SkySaga capture the Minecraft magic?

It's no surprise that the building game born in Sweden in 2009 and now played by millions, has imitators keen to construct their own mega money-spinner
The King's School is way ahead of the pack when it comes to using the latest classroom technology

Staying connected: The King's School

The school in Cambridgeshire is ahead of the pack when it comes to using the latest classroom technology. Richard Garner discovers how teachers and pupils stay connected
Christmas 2014: 23 best women's perfumes

Festively fragrant: the best women's perfumes

Give a loved one a luxe fragrance this year or treat yourself to a sensual pick-me-up
Arsenal vs Borussia Dortmund: Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain celebrates century with trademark display of speed and intuition

Arsenal vs Borussia Dortmund

The Ox celebrates century with trademark display of speed and intuition
Billy Joe Saunders vs Chris Eubank Jnr: When two worlds collide

When two worlds collide

Traveller Billy Joe Saunders did not have a pampered public-school upbringing - unlike Saturday’s opponent Chris Eubank Jnr
Homeless Veterans Christmas Appeal: Drifting and forgotten - turning lives around for ex-soldiers

Homeless Veterans Christmas Appeal: Turning lives around for ex-soldiers

Our partner charities help veterans on the brink – and get them back on their feet
Putin’s far-right ambition: Think-tank reveals how Russian President is wooing – and funding – populist parties across Europe to gain influence in the EU

Putin’s far-right ambition

Think-tank reveals how Russian President is wooing – and funding – populist parties across Europe to gain influence in the EU
Tove Jansson's Moominland: What was the inspiration for Finland's most famous family?

Escape to Moominland

What was the inspiration for Finland's most famous family?