Housebuilder Taylor Wimpey to brush off activist call for next boss to be an outsider
- Taylor Wimpey has informed staff it is still considering an internal hire
- Group operations director Jennie Daly is seen as the frontrunner
Under-fire housebuilder Taylor Wimpey has brushed off calls from a powerful activist investor to appoint a new chief executive from outside the firm, informing staff it is still considering an internal hire.
In a memo, chairwoman Irene Dorner said the process to hire a replacement for outgoing chief Pete Redfern was at ‘an advanced stage’ and ‘a full search internally and externally’ for candidates was being conducted with advice from top headhunters.
The £6billion builder was rocked two weekends ago when The Mail on Sunday revealed that Elliott, the influential US hedge fund, had taken a stake. Days later, Taylor Wimpey announced a plan for Redfern, who has run the business for 14 years, to leave the business after a handover period.
New boss: A full search ‘internally and externally’ for candidates is being conducted
Elliott responded by writing to Taylor Wimpey’s board demanding the search ‘focus on external candidates who have not been a party to the underperformance to date’.
In the memo, Dorner said: ‘It is the board’s responsibility to do the right thing for Taylor Wimpey and appoint the best candidate who can work with all of our stakeholders to continue to drive our successful business forward and create value for us all.
‘The ability to understand and embody our culture is key and is being taken into account in our thinking and consideration.’
Her comments, the first to emerge since Elliott published its letter, were seen internally as a sign that Taylor Wimpey will stick with a plan to promote an existing executive.
Group operations director Jennie Daly is seen as the frontrunner, with group finance director Chris Carney also tipped.
One headhunter, who has worked with Taylor Wimpey, said: ‘They have been succession planning for years and it would have been a failure if they hadn’t.
The plan was to appoint Jennie. Now that Elliott have arrived, the process may take longer but I still expect Jennie to succeed Pete when he goes.’
If appointed, Daly would become the only female chief executive of a top housebuilder, and Dormer is currently the only female chair in a male-dominated industry.
Elliott is engaged in a series of activist campaigns, including calling for a break-up of energy firm SSE and demanding GlaxoSmith-Kline chief executive Emma Walmsley re-applies for her own job.
The headhunter added: ‘It could become a delicate situation, as Elliott won’t want to be seen to attack a female appointment after gunning for Emma at Glaxo. Carney is also a good candidate as he has both operational and financial experience.’
Elliott’s arrival and demands for an external chief sparked industry speculation it may push for ex-Persimmon boss Jeff Fairburn to take charge at Taylor Wimpey. The chief executive of Berkeley deVeer joined forces with Elliott to buy Avant Homes earlier this year.
Elliott’s arrival and demands for an external chief sparked industry speculation it may push for ex-Persimmon boss Jeff Fairburn to take charge at Taylor Wimpey
Fairburn caused controversy in 2018 when he received a £75million bonus linked to a scheme aided by the Government’s Help to Buy initiative. He has ruled himself out of leading Taylor Wimpey.
Dave Jenkinson, who succeeded him at Persimmon and snared £40million under the same bonus scheme, has expressed an interest. But a housebuilding source said: ‘Dave is as tarnished as Jeff. Investors wouldn’t stomach either leading Taylor Wimpey.’
Crest Nicholson boss Peter Truscott and Barratt deputy chief executive Steven Boyes have also been linked with the job.