Lord Smith’s SSE board departure brought forward

SCOTTISH businessman Lord Robert Smith of Kelvin has brought forward his departure as chairman of energy giant SSE to become chairman of industrial group IMI.

The announcement follows current IMI chairman Roberto Quarta’s decision to step down at the group’s annual general meeting in May.

“We agreed unanimously that Robert, who in addition to his high- level board credentials, has extensive industrial, international and M&A experience, and was the right person to succeed Roberto at this important time in IMI’s evolution,” said Anita Frew, a senior director at IMI.

Lord Smith had previously announ­ced his intention to leave the position he held at SSE for 10 years and will now step down on 23 July.

“I am pleased to be taking on this role at such an exciting time,” he said.

“The group’s new strategic direction is now embedded in all the businesses and I am looking forward to working with the board and the executive team to ensure that we deliver IMI’s ambitious accelerated growth plan.”

The Scotsman is expected to be replaced by SSE’s current deputy chairman, Richard Gillingwater, and retained for a further year to provide advice and counsel on key business issues for Scotland.

“Over the coming months, we will continue to work together on the key operational, market and financial issues facing SSE,” said Smith.

Shares in SSE closed up 2.07 per cent on the back of the news.

PROFILE: Lord Robert Smith

BORN in Glasgow in 1944, Lord Robert Smith of Kelvin attended the all-boys Allan Glen’s School before qualifying as a chartered accountant.

His chairman roles include those at the Weir Group, the UK Green Investment Bank, the National Museums of Scotland as well as governor of the BBC.

In 1999, the father of two was knighted for services to Scotland’s museums and was appointed to the House of Lords as an independent backbencher a decade later. In 2013, he was appointed to the Order of the Thistle – the highest honour in Scotland.

The proud owner of Inchmarnock, an uninhabited, 660-acre island off the west coast of Scotland, Lord Smith has a strong interest in breeding highland cattle and is the former president of the Royal Highland and Agricultural Society of Scotland.

He recently chaired the organising committee for the Glasgow 2014 Commonwealth Games and was described by Scotland’s ex-First Minister Alex Salmond as having a “proven track record” and “tremendous” experience.

He holds honorary degrees from the Universities of Edinburgh, Glasgow and West of Scotland, and was installed as chancellor of the University of Strathclyde in 2013.