The Men And Women Who Run British Land

Published in Company Comment on 19 September 2012

What you need to know about the property 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. 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 British Land (LSE: BLDN), the UK’s second-largest REIT.

Here are the key directors:

Chris Gibson-Smith(non-exec) Chairman
Chris GriggChief Executive
Lucinda BellFinance Director
Stephen SmithChief Investment Officer
Tim RobertsHead of Offices
Charles MaudsleyHead of Retail

British Land’s 13-strong board has no less than five executive directors.

Chris Gibson-Smith joined the board in 2003 and became chairman in 2007. He is also chairman of the London Stock Exchange (LSE: LSE), a post he has held since 2003. His executive career was spent at BP (LSE: BP) leaving in 2001 after 31 years. He acted temporarily as executive chairman of British Land in 2008 when CEO Stephen Hester was poached to run RBS (LSE: RBS).

CEO Chris Grigg is a former investment banker who spent 20 years at Goldman Sachs followed by Barclays (LSE: BARC) where he was group treasurer from 2005 to 2007 (running the department responsible for the bank’s libor submissions) and later chief executive of UK business banking, leaving to take up his appointment at British Land in January 2009.

Balance Sheet

Joining at the low point of the property cycle, Mr Grigg shored up British Land’s balance sheet with a rights issue and asset disposals. The shares have lost 7% during his tenure, but that’s better than nearest rival Land Securities (LSE: LAND) which has lost 16%. His £1m golden hello paid out last year, which also saw his remuneration increased by 50%.

A former accountant working for British Land’s auditor, Lucinda Bell joined the company in 1991 and became finance director in 2011.

Stephen Smith and Charles Maudsley were recruited by Chris Grigg in 2009 to strengthen the board’s real estate experience. Smith was well regarded as the global head of real estate asset management at AXA, whilst Maudsley was European co-head of LaSalle Investment Management. Tim Roberts is an older hand, joining the company in 1997 and the board in 2006.

The seven non-execs are drawn from the retail, property, banking and finance worlds, and include former cabinet secretary Lord Turnbull.

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

1. Reputation. Management CVs and track record.

Good but slightly irrelevant.
Score 3/5
2. Performance. Success at the company.

Reasonably good.
Score 3/5
3. Board Composition. Skills, experience, balance

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

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

Relatively low compared to pay.
Score 3/5

Overall, British Land scores 15 out of 25, an unremarkable result. Though it is out of vogue to have so many executive directors, for me it’s one of this board’s more attractive aspects.

I've collated all my FTSE 100 boardroom verdicts on this summary page.

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> Tony does not own any shares mentioned in this article.

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The opinions expressed here are those of the individual writers and are not representative of The Motley Fool. If you spot any comments that are unsuitable hit the flag to alert our moderators.

BarrenFluffit 19 Sep 2012 , 10:38am

I'd argue that a wider experience is useful in a company which primarily sells space to a range of other businesses. Those businesses have different priorities / dynamics. On the other side it needs to be as smart in the financing of its investments; its not like a consumer asking for a mortgage.

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