Vince Cable has been warned not to meddle with the business plan of struggling company Tesco, after the Liberal Democrat minister called for a meeting with top bosses.
The Institute of Directors yesterday warned that MPs should steer clear of meddling in the troubled retailer’s future, but added that there are some legitimate concerns that should be addressed in the case of Tesco.
“Broadly speaking, politicians should be wary of intervening in businesses. Even state owned enterprises, like RBS, should be managed at arms length from government, ideally through an independent body like UKTI. If the meeting is to do with public policy reasons however, such as the closure of stores, then one can understand,” senior corporate governance adviser at the IoD Oliver Parry told City A.M.
Cable wrote to Tesco boss Dave Lewis requesting a meeting about the company’s long-term strategy. The letter comes after a difficult year for Tesco, during which a number of senior executives have been suspended and the Serious Fraud Office has launched an investigation into accounting irregularities.
A spokesperson for Cable said yesterday that the minister is in “listening mode” and wants to discuss the future of the business, which employs 300,000 people around the UK. “He wants to hear from the horse’s mouth what the plan is for the future, lots has happened at Tesco and the two haven’t yet had chance to meet,” the spokesperson added.
A Labour source last night welcomed the sit-down, adding: “Vince is as straight as a die, we don’t think there’s anything unusual about the meeting at all.”
Conservative MP Mark Field also welcomed the news, but called on Cable not to play politics with the issue.