The Men Who Run BG Group

Published in Company Comment on 27 July 2012

What you need to know about the gas company’s top executives.

Management can make all the difference to a company's success and thus its share price.

The best companies are those run by talented and experienced leaders with strong vested interests in the success of the business, held in check by a board with sound financial and business acumen. On the other hand, some of the worst investments to hold are those run by executives collecting fat rewards as the underlying business goes to pot.

In this series, I'm assessing the boardrooms of companies within the FTSE 100 (UKX). I hope to separate the management teams that are worth following from those that are not. Today I am looking at BG Group (LSE: BG), the integrated natural gas company.

Here are the key directors:

DirectorPosition
Andrew Gould(non-exec) Chairman
Sir Frank ChapmanChief Executive
Fabio BarbosaCFO
Martin HoustonCOO
Chris FinlaysonExecutive Director

Andrew Gould has been a non-exec for 12 months, and became chairman in May. A chartered accountant, he was previously chairman and CEO of Schlumberger, the oil services group, where he spent most of his career. He was also a non-exec director of Rio Tinto (LSE: RIO).

Rare Specimen

Sir Frank Chapman is that rare specimen, an engineer running a FTSE 100 company. After a career with Shell (LSE: RDSB) and BP (LSE: BP.) he joined BG in 1996 and became CEO in 2000. That’s a long stint at the top, during which the share price has increased five-fold. He plans to step down next year, which might explain his selling a large chunk of shares in May – though he still has £18m worth.

Appointed as CFO in 2011, Fabio Barbosa was previously CFO of Vale, the Brazilian mining company, and earlier served in the Brazilian finance ministry. That’s a useful background given the importance of BG’s Brazilian operations.

Martin Houston has been with BG for 29 years and has £10m worth of shares to his name. Chris Finlayson is a more recent arrival, having spent 33 years with Shell.

BG has 9 non-execs with backgrounds in industry, government and banking. The senior non-exec is Baroness Hogg, formerly head of the Prime Minister’s Policy Unit.

I analyse management teams from five different angles to work out a verdict. Here's my assessment:

1. Reputation. Management CVs and track record.

Impressive execs

 

Score 5/5

2. Performance. Success at the company.

Chapman’s tenure has been successful

 

Score 4/5

3. Board Composition. Skills, experience, balance

Good mix

 

Score 4/5

4. Remuneration. Fairness of pay, link to performance.

Controversy in 2010. Well linked to performance.

 

Score 3/5

5. Directors’ Holdings, compared to their pay.

2 out of 5 execs with big holdings

 

Score 2/5

Overall, BG scores 18 out of 25, one of the better management teams in the FTSE 100.

Frank Chapman’s departure next year will be a loss, but the company has shown itself adept at succession planning. BG faces some challenges ahead, but the company is in safe hands.

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> Tony owns shares in BG, Rio Tinto and Shell but no other shares mentioned in this article.

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