The Association of British Insurers (ABI) has come out and said it’s not aware of any shareholder support for the chief exec’s controversial promotion to chairman. Indeed, hasn’t anyone at M&S heard of corporate governance?
Peter Montagnon, head of the ABI, has stated that the ‘fundamental concerns’ of its members are increasing, and that any explanation for the move to give Rose both posts would have to be ‘very good indeed’. This criticism comes on the back of similar expressions of dissatisfaction this week from M&S shareholders Legal & General and Schroders. Brandes Investment Partners, the retailer’s biggest stakeholder, and Fidelity, the fund manager, are also understood to be unhappy.
M&S has maintained it has the support of the majority of its shareholders. But in the climate of corporate governance that’s been around since the Cadbury report, such a high-profile appointment was hardly ever going to go unchallenged.
The boardroom reshuffle will keep Rose at M&S until 2011, which will surely suit many M&S investors. Corporate governance issues aside, retaining Rose’s expertise has been seen to be of prime importance to the store’s phoenix-like recovery. But with the share price nose-diving earlier this year, all eyes will be on his ability to steer the M&S ship through choppy waters. And he surely won't want to be distracted by shareholders getting their M&S knickers in a twist.