Comment: Grimstone in the mix for King’s successo
STANDARD Life chairman Gerry Grimstone, who last week was appointed to a similar role at the financial services lobby group TheCityUK, could be in line for a much bigger job. Tipsters have him down as a potential successor to Sir Mervyn King as governor of the Bank of England.
Downing Street is due to begin the hunt for a successor but already a number of the likeliest candidates are falling by the wayside.
Deputy governor Paul Tucker was regarded as the favourite until he got sucked into the LIbor rate-rigging row, even though he has stressed his innocence in his dealings with Barclays. Its boss John Varley was another tipped to move into Threadneedle Street, but his hopes appear to have evaporated because the questionable events at Barclays took place while he was in charge.
Likewise, candidates from HSBC won’t have been done any favours by the US money laundering fine.
Names now climbing to the top of the list include Sir John Vickers, who led the Independent Commission on Banking. Criticism that he did not go far enough in his recommendations may leave some to question how tough he may be as governor.
The bookies make Lord O’Donnell, the former Cabinet Secretary, clear favourite, though he may lack the required experience and also has his detractors in the Commons.
Grimstone has worked at the Treasury, playing a key role in the privatisations of the 1980s, and has experience across the financial services sector, firstly in investment banking at Schroders. He is a director at accountancy firm Deloitte and a past chairman of the private equity firm Candover.
The insurance industry bears its own scars from scandals over pensions and endowments but it has not been tainted by recent crises that have focused on the banks. Under Grimstone’s watch Standard Life has continued the recovery nurtured by Sir Brian Stewart and Sir Sandy Crombie. The Prime Minister may just give him a call.
Dawson hopes starting to fray
ASIDE from losing another quoted company to an overseas buyer, Scotland is on the brink of seeing one of its former textiles titans come apart at the seams.
East Kilbride-based Goals Soccer Centres is likely to slip into foreign hands after the board agreed to a £73 million bid from Ontario Teachers’ Pension Plan.
A higher offer could yet be tabled by rival operator Patron Capital.
Meanwhile the future for more than 3,000 members of the Dawson International pension fund looks anything but a win-win situation.
The company, once the owner of global brands such as Pringle and Ballantine, is now reduced to a core payroll of about 200, including a factory in the Borders supplying Chanel, Dior and Hermes.
It faces a £50 million hole in its pension fund but the government’s Pension Protection Fund, set up to rescue companies facing such problems, has refused to take on the liabilities.
It may force loss-making Dawson into administration unless it can somehow find a solution.
Sadly, it is not the first company that has downsized only to be left with substantial pension commitments to former employees.
Dawson’s traditions stretch back to the 1870s but its best years are behind it. If there are to be many more its current board has a lot of talking to do.
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