Author Topic: Stagecoach chief Sir Brian Souter changing roles as part of 'long-term successio  (Read 1331 times)

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Stagecoach chief Sir Brian Souter changing roles as part of 'long-term succession planning'

Sir Brian Souter is to take a step back from the day-to-day running of Perth-based transport giant Stagecoach.

By James Williamson
Published in the Courier : 23.08.12

Published online : 23.08.12 @ 02.07pm
The chief executive is to step down from his current role in May next year and become chairman of the firm's board of directors as part of a coordinated transfer of responsibilities.

The news was announced to the company's 35,000 staff and the stock market simultaneously on Wednesday morning, with Sir Brian saying he always intended to ''pass the baton'' well before reaching retirement age.

Current chairman Sir George Matthewson will step down at the same time, while Stagecoach finance director Martin Griffiths will step up to replace Sir Brian as chief executive.

In a letter to staff, Sir Brian said now is the ''right time'' for the move.

He founded the firm with sister Ann Gloag more than three decades ago after spotting a gap in the market for intercity travel in Scotland — and has gone on to turn his company into a massive concern, with operations all over the world.

''I will continue to remain heavily involved with Stagecoach,'' Sir Brian told workers. ''The changes we have announced today reflect our long-term succession planning.

''The group's success over more than three decades has always been about more than one person and I feel fortunate to have the support of a dynamic team at Stagecoach.''

He said he would hand over the reins in a ''smooth transition'', adding that Mr Griffiths and new finance director Ross Paterson formed part of the ''best young management talent'' in the sector.

''That is true not just at senior executive management level, but also in our operating companies,'' Sir Brian added.

He said he would be an active chairman and was as ''passionate as ever''.

''I will continue to have a strong interest and involvement in the future of Stagecoach,'' he said. ''My family and I remain committed major shareholders.

''As chairman, I look forward to working with our other board directors to ensure we continue to lead the way in shaping the future of transport and delivering strongly for our investors.''

It is reckoned the Souter family's 26% stake in Stagecoach is worth around £400m.

While the UK's corporate governance code recommends that company chief executives should not become chairmen of the same company, Stagecoach say that retaining the talents of Sir Brian as part of a carefully considered succession plan would benefit the company and all of its shareholders.

The changes will also see senior independent non-executive director Garry Watts appointed deputy chairman, while a further non-executive director will also be appointed to strengthen governance, and taking the number of independent non-executive seats to six.

Analysts said they were unsurprised by the announcement, adding that it was unlikely to concern investors familiar with Stagecoach.