Parton's rise from obscurity to riches

Liz Vaughan-Adams
Wednesday 19 March 2003 01:00
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When Mike Parton took over as chief executive of the troubled telecoms equipment maker Marconi a year and a half ago, few had heard of the man who is now in line for a payout of between £15m AND £26m.

While the City was prepared to give the newcomer the benefit of the doubt, it was also wary of the man who headed up Marconi's biggest division ­ where many of the group's problems had occurred.

But Mr Parton stuck rigidly to his remit of slashing costs and reducing debt and his efforts now look to have paid off as the company prepares to emerge from its restructuring.

Since taking over as chief executive in September 2001, Marconi's net debt has fallen to £2.8bn from £4.4bn after a massive disposal programme while staff numbers have fallen to about 16,000 from about 49,000.

But it has not all gone to plan. Since his arrival at the helm, the company's shares have also collapsed to current levels of about 2p from about the 54p mark when he took over.

Mr Parton has enjoyed a long career with Marconi, having joined GEC in 1991 as finance director of GPT ­ a telecoms joint venture with Siemens now known as Marconi Communications. He became chief executive of Marconi Communications in 1998.

Before joining GEC in 1991, he held a number of finance appointments at other telecoms and computer companies including a three-year stretch at ICL and a four-year stint at STC Telecommunications.

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