AA puts former deal king Martin Clarke in the finance hot seat

Michael Bow
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AA has a new chief financial officer in Martin Clarke
Roadside recovery giant AA yesterday appointed an ex-senior private equity dealmaker to take the reins as chief financial officer of the 110-year-old business.
Martin Clarke, a former executive at private equity firm Permira, will replace Andy Boland, who stepped down earlier this year as the finance chief of the firm.
Clarke was part of the management-led accelerated listing of the company, which was also guided by current AA boss Bob Mackenzie and former PwC man Nick Hewitt.
The group also announced that John Leach, a former fund manager at Hermes, will become senior independent non-executive director, taking the total non-executives to five.
“I am plea­s­ed that Martin is be­­coming CFO and John our sen­ior independent director and that the board can announce these changes today,” Mackenzie said.
“As a result, there is now an independent balance to the board, and after Andy Boland leaves, there will be five non-executive directors and three executive directors.”
It marks a return to the AA for Clarke, who has hands-on experience of the business through his role on Permira’s executive committee, which co-owned the AA for a decade from 2004.
The AA floated on the London Stock Exchange in July in a management buy-in deal backed by several large fund managers, including Aviva, Black­Rock, Legal & General and Lansdowne Partners.
Shares in the company have performed well since listing, rising 37 per cent from an issue price of 250p and closing at 343.25p yesterday.


Martin Clarke’s choice as chief financial officer at the AA has raised some eyebrows in the City given his background primarily as a dealmaker rather than a beancounting CFO.
Clarke, who is a prominent Labour Party supporter, earned his dealmaking spurs at Cinven, a group he joined fresh from a PhD in history from Jesus College, Cambridge in 1981.
He joined the private equity arm of Prudential in 1985 and helped grow the firm to a 35-person business across Europe and Asia. As a member of the investment committee, he also had a hand in over 20 deals, and started to specialise in consumer, leisure and retail sectors. He was recruited to Permira in 2002 and went on to help lead the firm’s investments in the consumer space, including transactions for firms such as New Look and Telepizza.
One of the best was his decision to invest in casino operator Galaxy Entertainment Group, which nearly tripled Permira’s money over a five-year period. Outside finance, he is director, trustee and chairman of development at the Shakespeare Globe Theatre.

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