Obituary: 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.

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 Moller, 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.

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.

News
i100
News
people Emma Watson addresses celebrity nude photo leak
News
Katie Hopkins appearing on 'This Morning' after she purposefully put on 4 stone.
peopleKatie Hopkins breaks down in tears over weight gain challenge
News
peopleHis band Survivor was due to resume touring this month
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
ebooksAn unforgettable anthology of contemporary reportage
Arts and Entertainment
Robert De Niro, Martin Scorsese and DiCaprio, at an awards show in 2010
filmsAll just to promote a new casino
News
i100
News
people'It can last and it's terrifying'
News
In this photo illustration a school student eats a hamburger as part of his lunch which was brought from a fast food shop near his school, on October 5, 2005 in London, England. The British government has announced plans to remove junk food from school lunches. From September 2006, food that is high in fat, sugar or salt will be banned from meals and removed from vending machines in schools across England. The move comes in response to a campaign by celebrity TV chef Jamie Oliver to improve school meals.
science
Arts and Entertainment
tv
Life and Style
fashionModel of the moment shoots for first time with catwalk veteran
News
i100
Sport
Tom Cleverley
footballLoan move comes 17 hours after close of transfer window
Sport
Alexis Sanchez, Radamel Falcao, Diego Costa and Mario Balotelli
footballRadamel Falcao and Diego Costa head record £835m influx
Life and Style
fashionAngelina Jolie's wedding dressed revealed
News
Boris Johnson may be manoeuvring to succeed David Cameron
i100
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

C#.NET Developer

£500 per day: Harrington Starr: C#.NET Developer C#, WPF, WCF, ASP.NET, Prism...

Creche Assistant or Nursery Nurse

£8 per hour: Randstad Education Leeds: The Job Creche Assistant to start asap ...

Nursery Nurse Level 3

£8 per hour: Randstad Education Leeds: The Job Nursery Nurse Leeds We are now ...

Web Developer/UI Developer (HTML5, CSS3,Jquery) London

£55000 - £65000 per annum: Harrington Starr: A Global Financial Service Organi...

Day In a Page

'I’ll tell you what I would not serve - lamb and potatoes': US ambassador hits out at stodgy British food served at diplomatic dinners

'I’ll tell you what I would not serve - lamb and potatoes'

US ambassador hits out at stodgy British food
Radio Times female powerlist: A 'revolution' in TV gender roles

A 'revolution' in TV gender roles

Inside the Radio Times female powerlist
Endgame: James Frey's literary treasure hunt

James Frey's literary treasure hunt

Riddling trilogy could net you $3m
Fitbit: Because the tingle feels so good

Fitbit: Because the tingle feels so good

What David Sedaris learnt about the world from his fitness tracker
Saudis risk new Muslim division with proposal to move Mohamed’s tomb

Saudis risk new Muslim division with proposal to move Mohamed’s tomb

Second-holiest site in Islam attracts millions of pilgrims each year
Alexander Fury: The designer names to look for at fashion week this season

The big names to look for this fashion week

This week, designers begin to show their spring 2015 collections in New York
Will Self: 'I like Orwell's writing as much as the next talented mediocrity'

'I like Orwell's writing as much as the next talented mediocrity'

Will Self takes aim at Orwell's rules for writing plain English
Meet Afghanistan's middle-class paint-ballers

Meet Afghanistan's middle-class paint-ballers

Toy guns proving a popular diversion in a country flooded with the real thing
Al Pacino wows Venice

Al Pacino wows Venice

Ham among the brilliance as actor premieres two films at festival
Neil Lawson Baker interview: ‘I’ve gained so much from art. It’s only right to give something back’.

Neil Lawson Baker interview

‘I’ve gained so much from art. It’s only right to give something back’.
The other Mugabe who is lining up for the Zimbabwean presidency

The other Mugabe who is lining up for the Zimbabwean presidency

Wife of President Robert Mugabe appears to have her sights set on succeeding her husband
The model of a gadget launch: Cultivate an atmosphere of mystery and excitement to sell stuff people didn't realise they needed

The model for a gadget launch

Cultivate an atmosphere of mystery and excitement to sell stuff people didn't realise they needed
Alice Roberts: She's done pretty well, for a boffin without a beard

She's done pretty well, for a boffin without a beard

Alice Roberts talks about her new book on evolution - and why her early TV work drew flak from (mostly male) colleagues
Get well soon, Joan Rivers - an inspiration, whether she likes it or not

Get well soon, Joan Rivers

She is awful. But she's also wonderful, not in spite of but because of the fact she's forever saying appalling things, argues Ellen E Jones
Doctor Who Into the Dalek review: A classic sci-fi adventure with all the spectacle of a blockbuster

A fresh take on an old foe

Doctor Who Into the Dalek more than compensated for last week's nonsensical offering