Smurfit, who currently chairs Finnish paper and packaging group Powerflute, is the former deputy chairman of Irish rival Jefferson Smurfit.
He is due to join the Menzies board on Monday, succeeding interim chairman Dermot Jenkinson, who took on the role in May following the surprise retirement of Iain Napier.
Smurfit’s appointment comes after German investor Shareholder Value Management (SVM) issued a call earlier this month for Menzies to nominate a new “independent” chairman and consider breaking itself up “in the interest of all shareholders”.
“I am honoured and proud to have been appointed chairman of John Menzies, which is an exceptionally strong brand highly trusted by its customers and look forward to assisting the group in achieving significant growth in the coming years,” Smurfit said today.
Jenkinson, who will continue with the logistics group as a non-executive director, added: “I had committed, at short notice, to act as chairman until such time as a suitable candidate had been found.
“The obvious qualities that Dr Smurfit possesses and his availability to assume the chairman responsibilities immediately meant I was happy to recommend his appointment. I am confident that Dr Smurfit will be a great asset to the group.”