Ian Marchant to step down from SSE after a decade at the controls

Ian Marchant said he would retain his current board roles
Ian Marchant said he would retain his current board roles
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IAN Marchant, the head of SSE, is to leave the energy giant after more than ten years overseeing significant growth.

Since becoming chief executive of the Perth-based utility in 2002, the company’s market capitalisation has grown from some £5.8 billion to £13.7bn, while electricity and gas customer accounts have risen from 
4.6 million to about 9.5 million.

Marchant, 51, will be succeeded in July by deputy chief executive Alistair Phillips-Davies. Phillips-Davies joined SSE’s predecessor company Southern Electric in 1997 and joined the board of the recently merged electricity giant in 2002.

Finance director Gregor Alexander will see his role expanded as the company does not expect to bring a new executive to ­replace Phillips-Davies.

Marchant said that he currently had “no plans” for when he retires, but added that he would retain current board roles at Wood Group and cancer charity Maggie’s.

“I will stay on those boards as long as they want me,” he said. Although he is likely to do ­further jobs, he ruled out chasing another senior executive role.

“I really do not want another big executive job. I’ve had the best job in the world – why would I want another?”

SSE chairman Lord Smith of Kelvin, speaking in a video posted on YouTube, said Marchant had been discussing his departure with the board “long in advance” of yesterday’s announcement. He added: “Ian is the best chief executive I have ever worked with – and I have been around a wee while.”

Marchant’s departure this summer will see him miss out on the impact of key developments affecting the UK’s “big six” energy suppliers with the introduction of the UK ­government’s energy bill in 2014, which could usher in greater ministerial influence over tariffs.

Phillips-Davies said “the critical piece” facing SSE under his tenure was energy affordability.

“What we have got to do is make sure we lead the debate and lead the investment so we are providing affordable energy for customers.”

First Minister Alex Salmond paid tribute to Marchant for his “outstanding leadership”.