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Editor’s letter: Sign O’ the times

THERE IS NO DOUBT that the recent headline-making job moves of Richard Pennycook and Ashley Almanza show the high regard in which they’re held.

Pennycook, in a move reminiscent of a formulaic action movie, has been recruited for ‘one last job’. That’s not to slight his nascent portfolio career. Indeed, he would have been a busy bee helping out with the restructuring at Thomas Cook as a non-executive.
But a series of non-exec roles was definitely a different path to that of taking on the FD role at the Co-operative Group.

As for Almanza, there’s little doubt that he was a likely successor for the top slot at G4S – but stepping up to head honcho mere weeks after taking over from Trevor Dighton as CFO suggests that fresh thinking to drive remedial action was more urgently required than first anticipated.

Unfortunately, these appointments aren’t indicative of a burgeoning economy. When it comes to the crunch, FDs are less likely to pick up chief executive roles during the good times – as marketeers and divisional chiefs take the top jobs.

That doesn’t mean that FDs-turned-CEOs are a ‘bad’ thing. It’s simply that the value driven by these executives will come through robust cost-management, financial restructuring and a good dose of common sense.

No one can doubt the wealth of experience and know-how that Pennycook and Almanza bring to their new roles. And if you hear any Doubting Thomases, perhaps point out that the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation Trust and the Bill Gates-owned Cascade Investment have increased their stake in G4S to 3.2%, days after the Almanza AGM, picking up a cool six million shares.

Bill knows.

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