Incoming Thames chair promises “best in class” governance

Thames Water has appointed former SSE chief executive, Ian Marchant (pictured), as independent chairman, and charged him with leading a review of its corporate structure and governance.

The company, which has been under particular scrutiny in an industry that has found itself unexpectedly in the spotlight on structural and governance issues, said it intends to close its Cayman Islands’ subsidiaries as a first step. “These have always been fully registered in the UK for tax purposes but no longer serve their original purpose of enabling smoother access to the global bond markets,” the company said on Thursday.

Marchant will join the Thames Water board on 1 December and take over as chairman on 26 January, 2018. He succeeds Sir Peter Mason KBE, who became chairman in 2006 and delayed his retirement last year to oversee a transitional phase for the company following the arrival of a new leadership team including chief executive Steve Robertson and chief financial officer Brandon Rennet, and several new investors.

Marchant said: “I’m very much looking forward to building on the important changes that Steve Robertson and his new executive team have started to put in place. As chairman, I will be ensuring that the governance of Thames Water is best in class. We will conduct a thorough review and implement any changes needed to ensure that we have the right mix of skills and experience needed in this rapidly changing world, have simple and transparent structures and importantly that we put customers at the heart of everything we do.”

The review will consider the relationship between Thames Water and its holding company since 2006 Kemble Water Holdings – in particular, how management control and decision making, including those matters currently reserved to the shareholders, can be made more transparent. Under current governance arrangements, Kemble and Thames have a chair in common but to enhance the independence of Thames Water, Marchant will chair the Thames Water board but will not chair, or sit on, the board of Kemble.