The Men and Women Who Run Imperial Tobacco

Published in Company Comment on 31 August 2012

What you need to know about the tobacco group'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 Imperial Tobacco (LSE: IMT).

Here are the key directors:

Ian Napier(non exec) Chairman
Alison CooperChief Executive
Robert DrybusFinance Director
Matthew PhillipsCorporate Affairs Director

Chairman Ian Napier is a former accountant who has undertaken a wide range of non-executive roles. His executive career included serving as CEO of Bass Brewers and Bass leisure division. He is also chairman of FTSE 250 firm John Menzies and small cap McBride.

One of Four

Imperial is one of four FTSE 100 companies to have a female CEO. However, the not very politically correct company has just one other woman on its board of 11.

A former accountant, Alison Cooper worked at PricewaterhouseCoopers on Imperial’s acquisitions before joining the company in 1999. She progressed through finance, regional management and chief operating officer roles. She was appointed CEO in 2010 on the retirement of Gareth Davies who had filled the role for 14 years since Imperial was demerged from Hanson and floated in 1996.

Finance director Robert Drybus has been associated with the company since 1985 and was appointed finance director on Imperial’s flotation. He and Gareth Davies were responsible for Imperial's growth through acquisition over those 14 years.

Matthew Phillips is a former Linklater's lawyer who was formerly the company secretary and general counsel, stepping up to the board this year. It’s perhaps an indication of the tricky path a tobacco company has to tread that it has a general counsel on the board.

The eight non-execs have a varied, mainly large company, experience.

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

1. Reputation. Management CVs and track record.

Chairman slightly lightweight.
Score 3/5
2. Performance. Success at the company.

Score 4/5
3. Board Composition. Skills, experience, balance

Good mix.
Score 3/5
4. Remuneration. Fairness of pay, link to performance.

Score 3/5
5. Directors’ Holdings, compared to their pay.

CEO has £3m worth of shares, FD £10m.
Score 4/5

Overall, Imperial scores 17 out of 25, in the top half of companies that I have analysed so far. The transition to a new generation of management is being conducted successfully, and Imperial’s results speak for themselves. The chairman has had less substantial public company CEO roles than most of his peers, but there is good corporate experience amongst the non execs.

I've collated all my FTSE 100 boardroom verdicts on this summary page. I hope it helps with your analysis.

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> Tony owns shares in Imperial Tobacco.

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YeeWo 03 Sep 2012 , 7:37pm

I certainly think Alison Cooper is one of the best looking executives in the FTSE 100!

I wish the fool wouldn't write these naff schoolboy appraisals of companies and then add in the awful hook to their paid share tip service.

Everybody knows Warren Buffett holds 3% of Tesco!

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