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Ian Duncan leaves Royal Mail

Royal Mail finance director Ian Duncan left the business in June in an unexpected move that observers ascribe to the acceleration of the plan to part-privatise or take the service to the stock exchange.

Duncan, who said his departure was due to “private and personal reasons”, leaves the way clear for a candidate who has experience of taking a large organisation to market – most likely a top UK FTSE-100 FD jumping ship for what is a tough, but irresistibly high-profile and influential finance job.

Cavanagh in the chase
In the US, JPMorgan Chase chief financial officer Michael Cavanagh has taken on a sideways-but-upwards promotion to CEO of its treasury and securities services business as part of a wider boardroom shuffle. The move is believed to be a signal from group chief executive Jamie Dimon that he is looking to Cavanagh as a potential successor and wants to give him the opportunity to broaden his experience and influence. Cavanagh has worked in various parts of the business since joining in 2004.

Try something different
In another lateral move that hints at a future group CEO role, Sainbury’s CFO Darren Shapland has been installed in the role of group development director, with responsibility for delivering its growth plans and expanding its banking and property divisions. He remains chairman at Sainsbury’s Bank.

An equally interesting promotion sees the group’s current property director, John Rogers, move into the CFO role. He has served as director of corporate finance and, previous to becoming property director, had a stint as director of group finance at the supermarket giant.

Third time lucky
Interserve FD Tim Jones makes the leap from the Smallcaps support services business to a high-profile role with FTSE-250 pubco Mitchells & Butlers, replacing Jeremy Townsend who has joined Rentokil as its CFO. Jones is the company’s third FD in three years after Karim Naffah’s resignation in January 2008, following the notorious failed property hedge that cost the business almost £400m. He was succeeded by Townsend, then his deputy FD – who subsequently announced his intention to leave for Rentokil in March this year.

Financial Director interviewed Tim Jones in 2005 and gave us a glimpse then of his ambitions. “He is one of the increasingly rare breeds of finance director that likes the technical aspects of his role and has no ambitions to become a chief executive,” our then-deputy editor David Rae said of him.

But Jones did reveal the ambition to eventually reach the FTSE-100. “It would be nice to get to a significantly larger company; if I can do that with Interserve, then great,” Jones told us.

New focus for Bray
FTSE-250 software company Micro Focus has lost its FD Nick Bray (right) after he told the board that he was in advanced discussions with a strategic competitor with whom he was considering accepting a role as CFO. Bray was put on immediate gardening leave but the company was at pains to make the parting amicable. “While the board is disappointed with this turn of events, we appreciate Nick’s integrity in stepping down at this time. The board is grateful to Nick for his outstanding contribution to Micro Focus,” the company said of the news. The search for a successor is underway.

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