Egan tipped as MEPC chairman

Clifford German
Sunday 31 May 1998 23:02

Sir John Egan, the chief executive of BAA, the UK's largest airport operator, is tipped to take over as non-executive chairman of the UK's third-largest property group MEPC this week. An announcement is expected to coincide with the release later this week of MEPC's results for the six months to the end of March.

He will replace Lord Blakenham, who is due to retire this year. Sir John made his name in the Eighties as chairman of Jaguar, the luxury car maker which was hived off from the ailing BLMC, floated and then sold to Ford for pounds 2bn in 1989. Since he moved to BAA Sir John has been credited with the policy of developing shopping malls on the company's sites at leading airports, including Heathrow and Gatwick, into a pounds 500m property portfolio.

Sir John is said to have been chosen ahead of Oliver Stocken the finance director of Barclays Bank and already a non-executive director of MEPC. His appointment would signal a fresh start for MEPC. The company's turbulent history included a massive expansion programme at the height of the property boom in the late Eighties that led to several years of underperformance.

Last year it fell out of the FTSE 100 share index after it rejected a bid from Hammerson. The company also had unsuccessful discussions with Burford and then took over the assets of PSIT last year.

In the full year to the end of September profits fell 40 per cent to pounds 84.1m after unwinding interest rate swap deals at a cost of pounds 73.2m, and pounds 9m of restructuring costs At the time chief executive James Tuckey announced plans for further asset sales in the US and Australia, a move to a smaller head office and the return of capital to shareholders this year.

Since the year end it has realised pounds 300m from the sale of a portfolio of small properties.

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