Compass nominates Cousins as chief

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Compass, the catering company accused of corruption, on Friday named Richard Cousins, former head of plasterboard maker BPB, as its new chief executive after a six-month search.

Mr Cousins could earn up to £3.4m in his first year, including a base salary of £750,000, a performance-related bonus of up to £1.1m in cash and £1.5m worth of shares under a long-term incentive plan. There are no share options.

In his second year Mr Cousins can defer half of his bonus and invest it in Compass shares. After three years the company will then match those shares with an additional share award, making the bonus element ultimately worth up to 2.25 times basic pay. Mr Bailey was on a basic salary of £977,000 last year.

Compass has been searching for a new chief executive since announcing in September that Mike Bailey would step down this year. It is believed the search took so long because of recent bad news surrounding the company.

A Compass subsidiary has become embroiled in allegations of corrupt buying practices and is facing several investigations.

Mike Murphy, analyst at Panmure Gordon, said Mr Cousins’ appointment would herald a “welcome culture change”.

“Compass is in need of leadership which will restore its reputation with many stakeholders, not least shareholders who have had a torrid time over the past three years. The business model needs refining,” he said.

Mr Cousins was chief executive of BPB until it was sold to France’s Saint-Gobain last December for £3.9bn. He is widely credited with turning BPB from a mid-sized building materials company into the world’s biggest plasterboard maker.

Separately, the auction of Select Service Partner, Compass’s travel concessions arm, is in its final stages and likely to close next month. The four bidders are: PAI Partners, the French private equity firm; Terra Firma; Macquarie Bank and CVC partners.

Compass shares rose 0.6 per cent, or 1½p, to 236¾p.

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