Leahy lined up to become Morrisons chair after takeover

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Clayton, Dubilier and Rice plans to nominate Sir Terry Leahy as chair of grocery store group Wm Morrison after after profitable the £10bn takeover battle for the UK grocer, in accordance with two folks briefed on the personal fairness agency’s plans.

Leahy, who was chief govt of UK grocery market chief Tesco for greater than a decade, has been a senior adviser to CD&R since he left the grocery store group in 2011. The agency edged out rival bidder Fortress Funding by just a penny a share in an public sale course of run by the UK’s takeover regulator on Saturday.

“There are very sturdy indications he’ll change into chair,” mentioned one of many folks. “It’s going to comply with the same mannequin to B&M,” he added, referring to the low cost retailer that Leahy chaired for five years after CD&R acquired a majority stake in it in 2012.

“I’d anticipate him to be an concerned non-executive chair,” mentioned one other individual, including that CD&R’s ordinary modus operandi at investee corporations was to ascertain a board with a mixture of inner and exterior appointees.

Leahy’s experience in shopping for and advertising and marketing is seen as significantly complementary to the abilities of Morrisons’ chief govt Dave Potts, who is understood for his organisational abilities and a spotlight to element.

Leahy, 65, can be a director of Motor Gas Group, the CD&R-owned petrol station chain that’s anticipated to characteristic in any enlargement of Morrisons’ comfort retailer enterprise.

Morrisons’ current non-executives, together with chair Andrew Higginson and senior impartial director Rooney Anand, will step down as soon as the deal has accomplished in late October, having orchestrated a bidding battle that noticed the value rise from an preliminary 230p a share to nearly 290p.

The takeover nonetheless must safe approval by shareholders at a gathering set for October 19. Columbia Threadneedle, one in every of Morrisons’ largest shareholders with a stake of about 8 per cent, signalled late on Saturday that it will settle for the supply.

Terry Leahy
Terry Leahy is a director of Motor Gas Group, the CD&R-owned petrol station chain that’s anticipated to characteristic in any enlargement of Morrisons’ comfort retailer enterprise © Denis Doyle/Bloomberg

Potts’ staff will proceed to run the enterprise day after day. In its supply documentation, CD&R pressured that it was “dedicated to supporting the present staff” which had “constructed the differentiated buyer proposition and wonderful in-store execution that outline the enterprise in the present day”.

“CD&R will assist Morrisons in additional constructing on these strengths as [it] has efficiently carried out with a variety of its portfolio corporations through the years”.

CD&R, Leahy and Morrisons all declined to remark.

Many analysts had assumed that Potts, who’s 64 and has run Morrisons since 2015, would have stepped down this 12 months or subsequent if it had remained a public firm, with chief working officer Trevor Pressure the obvious inner candidate to exchange him.

It’s much less clear how and when this succession may now play out. Those that know him say Potts had been reinvigorated by the challenges of the pandemic. Morrisons’ responses to it, particularly within the first few months when it launched new initiatives equivalent to boxed grocery deliveries, have been extensively praised.

One other complicating issue is the scenario at Asda, the place Roger Burnley quit as chief executive in August following its takeover by TDR Capital and the Issa brothers earlier within the 12 months.

The corporate is on the lookout for a substitute and working the UK’s third-largest grocer is on paper a pretty alternative for the likes of Pressure and different senior executives at rival supermarkets — particularly provided that the probably inner candidates at Asda have all left.

However these accustomed to the corporate say that Mohsin Issa is spending extra time at its Leeds headquarters and turning into extra concerned with decision-making, elevating questions on how a lot independence an incoming chief govt may need.

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