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TMCNet:  O'Toole: I do not want influence on board selections [Herald, The (Scotland)]

[July 12, 2014]

O'Toole: I do not want influence on board selections [Herald, The (Scotland)]

(Herald, The (Scotland) Via Acquire Media NewsEdge) FIRSTGroup's chief executive Tim O'Toole, under fire from some shareholders ahead of next week's annual meeting over his 86 per cent pay rise, has denied that he wants to influence non-executive appointments.


US hedge fund and 3.1 per cent shareholder Sandell last month made a formal complaint to FirstGroup chairman John Macfarlane over his proposal that a candidate for the board being put forward by Sandell should first meet with Mr O'Toole.

According to Sandell, that would breach FirstGroup's own corporate governance protocol. But Mr O'Toole said: "Proper corporate governance would always involve the CEO seeing a prospective board member. It is not for the CEO to decide, that is for the nomination committee." Sandell has also claimed that had there been more US expertise on its board, FirstGroup could have avoided making "bad decisions" in its biggest market, the US, where the First Student and Greyhound businesses are being slowly turned round.

"I completely reject that suggestion," Mr O'Toole said. "What happened at First Student was an external event, it wasn't that some person on the board could have made a difference." Mr O'Toole also insisted that FirstGroup had put in the best bid for the pound(s)6 billion ScotRail franchise, due to be awarded in September in a five-way contest.

He said: "One of the things an evaluator is going to have to layer onto a bid is whether it is deliverable, whether the people who are making the promises are the people who will be able to stand behind them, and the ScotRail team has credibility that no one else can match." (c) 2014 ProQuest Information and Learning Company; All Rights Reserved.

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