Directors pile pressure on Sir John Peace ahead of crunch AGM

Tim Wallace
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Sir John Peace has faced two revolts already
City grandee Sir John Peace is under fire again over poor governance at the firms he chairs, with the Institute of Directors (IoD) attacking his succession planning at Experian.

Serial chairman Peace is facing his third shareholder rebellion of the year, after complaints over his stewardship of Burberry and Standard Chartered. He is leaving Experian’s board and will be replaced by chief executive Don Robert, if the appointment is approved by shareholders today.

“Due to his previous position as CEO, [Robert] may struggle to view the company and its management in a sufficiently objective way,” said the IoD’s Oliver Parry. “Furthermore, his presence may inhibit the ability of the new CEO to properly manage the company.” The corporate governance code, run by the watchdog the Financial Reporting Council, states that CEOs should not move immediately into the role of chairman.

Shareholder advisory group Pensions Investment Research Consultants has also called on investors to reject the appointment. And the Investment Management Association told its members giving Robert the job would break best practice guidelines.

Experian argues Robert would step down as CEO anyway, and it is better to keep him as chairman, rather than to lose both top staff in swift succession.

Peace faced a shareholder revolt at Burberry, where he is chairman, last week, when 53 per cent of investors rejected the CEO’s pay package. And 40 per cent of shareholders earlier this year voted against the remuneration package at Standard Chartered, which Peace also chairs.

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