Given the demands of chairing a FTSE 100 board, I would have thought the answer to that question is just the one. This is not the case for Sir John Peace though, who currently chairs 3 – and all of them in some degree of trouble with their shareholders.
Admittedly he has just stood down from one of them; Experian but up till now he has been juggling this demanding role at Standard Chartered, Experian and Burberry – and all three companies have been criticised by their shareholders recently.
The problems at Experian revolve around the perceived lack of independence of the Non-Executive Chair – with Sir John’s replacement Don Robert being moved up from Chief Executive being regarded as poor corporate governance practice. The value of independence is seen to be a fresh pair of eyes that can take an objective view of the business – clearly not the case with a Chairman who has been in the business for 40 years handing over to the current Chief Executive.
Sir John’s problems at Burberry were brought into sharp focus by the recent shareholder revolt with 53% of the investors voting against the £20 million pay package for Chief Executive Christopher Bailey.
Now we learn that shareholders at Standard Chartered are unhappy with the performance of Chief Executive Peter Sands following two profit warnings in seven months.
The UK Corporate Governance Code suggests that two is the maximum number of FTSE 100 Chair positions that anyone can hold at one time and that they should be independent in order to exercise objective judgement.
I would say that Sir John Peace has clearly demonstrated the wisdom of this advice even if he has not heeded it himself.