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Weir’s Cochrane appoints successor as FD

Ernst & Young partner Jon Stanton has joined Scottish
FTSE-250 engineering group Weir as its finance director, replacing Keith
Cochrane who was made CEO late last year. It is his first FD role.

Stanton has been with E&Y since 1998 and was made partner in the London
office in 2001, taking on lead responsibility for auditing a number of FTSE-100
clients including Invensys, Hanson and InterContinental Hotels.

Weir welcomed the addition of Stanton’s extensive experience in corporate
finance ranging from mergers and acquisitions, restructuring and business
process improvement projects. The company said he also had extensive
international experience. He will formally start work in Spring after completing
existing client commitments.

Eyebrows were raised by the appointment of an E&Y auditor given that
Weir’s auditor is E&Y. But a spokesperson for the business has defended the
appointment, saying that Stanton had no involvement with the Weir account during
his time at the firm.

Stanton inherits a much refreshed and tidied finance function as his
predecessor Cochrane spent the past couple of years shoring up the finances of
the business and streamlining its processes.

Cochrane was made CEO last September after four years in the FD’s job. An
experienced head, he gained notoriety when he became CEO at Stagecoach in 2000
and spent two years fire fighting various operational and financial issues in
its American business. He resigned after an American publication said that he
had called the business’s Stateside customers “riff raff”, which he denied. He
had been brought into Stagecoach as financial controller by founder Brian
Souter, his first role in business after qualifying with Arthur Andersen.

Interviewed by Financial Director in June 2009, Cochrane denied
being interested in the CEO role at Weir, saying that after having reorganised
its finance function and dealt with its pension risk he was “pretty comfortable”
in his job. But circumstances revealed otherwise when previous CEO Mark Selway
had an offer to return to his native Australia to take up a job there.

“I enjoy the FD role, particularly in an organisation like Weir where it
gives you breadth of coverage,” he told us last June. “I think the financial
side is fascinating and in the modern world where you partner with your chief
executive, frankly, you can get almost as much exposure being an FD as you can
being a CEO. It’s a badge that gives you the ability to dip into most things
across an organisation.”

Cochrane left Stagecoach in 2002 to become director of group financial
reporting at ScottishPower, but was passed over for the group FD role when Simon
Lowth, then a McKinsey consultant and now CFO at AstraZeneca, was brought in for
the job. “I’d be daft if I said I didn’t want it,” he told Financial
Director
of his wish to become ScottishPower FD. “It would have been
agreeable.”

To read our profile of Keith Cochrane, click
here

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