There is turmoil at the top at the big Footsie farewell

Britain’s blue-chip companies are experiencing one of the biggest upheavals in top management ever, as seven stalwart Footsie bosses have either left or announced their exit since the beginning of the year.

The changing of the guard comes at a highly sensitive time as the global economy is on a razor’s edge and the FTSE 100 Index is losing ground against Wall Street.

Among those stepping down are City stars Nigel Wilson, head of Legal & General, and Ivan Menezes, chief executive of Diageo, maker of Guinness and Baileys.

It heralds restructuring at some of Britain’s best-known firms, as fresh faces make way for leaders like Wilson, who have distinctively shaped their businesses.

The water company United Utilities and the safety equipment manufacturer Halma said goodbye to their longtime bosses on Friday.

Handovers: Andrew Williams, left, and Steve Mogford

Handovers: Andrew Williams, left, and Steve Mogford

Steve Mogford, 66, at United Utilities has handed over to Louise Beardmore, previously the company’s director of customer service and human resources. She takes over at a sensitive moment when water companies are under intense scrutiny.

Shareholders might miss Mogford, which has returned 213 percent since its inception 12 years ago.

The departure of Andrew Williams, chief executive of health and safety equipment group Halma, is likely to be felt heavily. At 55, he’s the youngest boss on the departure list, but at 18 in the hot seat, he’s had the longest career as chief executive.

In that time, shareholders have seen returns of 1,896 percent — big footsteps for his successor, CFO Marc Ronchetti.

Menezes, 63, left Diageo last week and investors will be toasting to a successful tenure. He is handing over to Debra Crew, President of Diageo North America and former CEO of RJ Reynolds Tobacco Company.

Four of the seven bosses have been running their companies for a decade or more, including Menezes. Legal & General’s Wilson ran Britain’s largest wealth manager for 11 years and has made it his mission to advance “inclusive capitalism” by investing in Britain’s infrastructure, including transport, housing and universities.

No successor has been named yet and the 66-year-old said he is happy to stay until one is found.

Two relative unknowns have taken the reins at Shell and Rolls-Royce, both of which CEOs left earlier this year. Shell’s veteran boss Ben Van Beurden, 64, who grossed more than £86m during his nine-year tenure, handed over to Wael Sawan, who had overseen the company’s green transformation before being given the top job.

Sawan must push the group to become a green powerhouse – something many in the industry said Van Beurden wasn’t able to do fast enough.


At Rolls-Royce, Warren East, 61, failed to lead the company to stardom. He is the only one of the outgoing CEOs to lead a dramatic fall in stock values, with total returns for investors falling by almost two-thirds since he took office in 2015.

But he saved the flagship manufacturer from potential bankruptcy in the pandemic, as planes were grounded and revenue from aircraft engine maintenance contracts dried up.

Rolls has drafted the head of BP’s petrol station business, Tufan Erginbilgic, who has embarked on a massive restructuring of the group after criticizing the previous regime. He’s already poached several BP executives to fix the ship.

At Unilever, boss Alan Jope, 59, is to resign at the end of 2023 after 37 years with the consumer goods giant.

His four years at the helm have been marred by controversy, notably over a failed £50bn bid in 2022 to buy GlaxoSmithKline’s healthcare division and for ‘waking up’ virtue signals. He will be replaced by Hein Schumacher, head of a Dutch dairy cooperative, an appointment supported by activist investor Nelson Peltz. Investors will hope that Schumacher and the other new bosses can restore Britain to productivity.

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