Spotlight On... Michael Queen, chief executive, 3i
Jim Armitage is the City editor of The Independent and London Evening Standard group of newspapers. He has been a reporter and editor for more than 20 years and was recently shortlisted for the Press Gazette financial journalist of the year and The Society of Editors financial journalist of the year awards. He contributes news, investigative reports and comment to the Independent titles plus a daily column in the Evening Standard.
Friday 30 March 2012
Michael Queen, who he?
One of the longest-serving inmates at the private equity giant 3i. After 25 years there, he's finally decided to call it a day.
What was his job?
He worked his way up since arriving in 1987 to the top job – chief executive in 2009.
Did he fall or was he pushed?
Well, it looks fairly voluntary. The company hasn't lined anybody up to replace him and he's staying with the business until they've found someone. But 3i has plenty of critics. Its shares trade at a savage discount to the value of its assets and some shareholders are understandably miffed.
It's a bit harsh to blame him entirely. 3i, formed by the Attlee government after the Second World War to provide funding to small businesses, still has the reputation of being something of a bureaucracy. That's particularly the case when you compare it to the likes of Electra and Hg. So making big changes is difficult. But Mr Queen deserves credit for slashing 3i's debt. And he created its infrastructure division, which is widely seen as one of the best bits of the business.
Who's likely to get his job?
Internally, the money is on Simon Borrows, who joined in October as chief investment officer. But some say 3i needs a complete outsider – possibly one from outside private equity altogether. Given that Mr Borrows was an investment banker before, however, you can bet he'll be playing up his "outsider" credentials to the board.
Meanwhile, Mr Queen looks a lame duck
It's always hard running a company when everybody knows you're leaving. Predators tend to circle. City brokers keep punting 3i as being vulnerable to a takeover and potential bidders may take the view that it's now or never. Don't hold your breath, though. Bits may be broken up, but an outright takeover seems unlikely.
Where's he going next?
Hard to say. He wants a job outside private equity – perhaps not surprising after 25 years at it.
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