Night of the long knives at Thomas Cook

 
Kasmira Jefford
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THE NEW chairman of Thomas Cook has unveiled a shake-up of the tour operator’s board with three non-executive directors set to leave next month following a turbulent year that saw the firm teetering on the brink.

Frank Meysman, a former US consumer goods executive, took over as chairman of the troubled tour operator last month and was expected to begin with a boardroom cull.

Among the departures are City grandees Bo Lerenius and Peter Middleton, who will retire early to allow Meysman “more flexibility to refresh the board”, the company said in a statement.

David Allvey, who was due to retire after nine years service, will also leave together with Middleton and Lerenius at the time of Thomas Cook’s annual general meeting on 8 February.

A fourth director, Roger Burnell, will step down at the annual general meeting in 2013.

The news came as Thomas Cook revealed that its former chief executive Manny Fontenla-Novoa received a £1.17m payoff from the company after he resigned in August despite presiding over a spate of profit warnings, which led to a bailout by its banks last month.

Fontenla-Novoa received the payout on top of the £1.19m salary earned in his last year of employment, according to the firm’s annual report.

Shares fell 3.23 per cent to 15p.