When father-of-five Bob Mackenzie isn’t using his spare time to watch his children’s various sporting fixtures, he likes to relax with a fly-fishing rod.
“We had a quiet period in August last year when we were looking at buying the business so I spent a month fishing,” he says. “I fish on the River Test and I used to have a Monday rod. But I’m far too busy now,” he adds.
As executive chairman of AA, his thoughts have been taken over by the loud roar of cars, tow trucks and vehicle recovery systems. Computer systems, and a desire to mine AA’s data to feed its floundering insurance arm, have also replaced the lure of the riverbank.
Mackenzie, a former boss of AA rival Green Flag, led the acquisition and flotation of the 109-year-old business, aided by fellow dealmakers Martin Clarke and Nick Hewitt.
The AA became public in June in a fast-track placement after Mackenzie, backed by cornerstone investors including BlackRock and Aviva, bought the group from its previous private equity owners, Acromas. One of the first casualties was former chief executive Chris Jansen, but clearly Mackenzie has no regrets.
“He’s a good guy but he was in an impossible position,” says Mackenzie. “He’d been recruited in January to IPO the business… and suddenly the three of us turn up as executive directors and with a mandate from shareholders who’d coughed up £1.4bn.”
Nor does Mackenzie like to spend any time wondering whether AA rivals RAC will float.
“Sorry who are the RAC?” he says bluntly.
He is more concerned with the AA’s future.
“We’ve run a company for 90 days so we can not take the plaudits for that… They’ve done a very good job there. What they haven’t been so good at is developing the brand.”
Fishermen – seems like there’s going to be a Monday rod going spare.