Archive : British Leyland names five for top jobs as Ryder report reshuffle begins

Derek Whittaker
Derek Whittaker

Four former Ford executives were among the five new appointments announced by British Leyland’s board yesterday in line with the recommendations made in the recently published Ryder report.

The four; along with Mr Alex Park, who was appointed acting managing director the day the Ryder report was published, were all recruited by Mr John Barber, who still holds the title of managing director pending his formal dismissal from the company. Two of the men once worked for AEI while a third worked for GEC-AEI. Mr Barber, before joining Leyland, worked for Ford and AEI.

Mr Gerry Wright, aged 49, moves from being controller of finance to take over Mr Park’s former role as finance director and will have a key job in ensuring that the company’s resources are deployed effectively.

Mr Derek Whittaker, aged 45, is, as reported in Business News last week, now, managing director of the car division, one of the four new- divisions in the corporation recommended by the Ryder report. Mr Ronald Ellis, aged 49 and an old Leyland man who served with Leyland Motors before the merger with British Motor Holdings in 1968, is confirmed as managing director of the truck and bus division and Mr David Andrews, aged 42, leads the international section.

Mr. David Abell, by far the youngest of the new appointments at 32, becomes managing director of the special products division. As expected, Mr Pat Lowry, director of industrial relations, and Mr Ron Lucas, corporation secretary, have been reappointed to their present positions. If a special meeting of Leyland’s shareholders agrees to a reconstruction of the company, which would. open the way to the Government taking control of Leyland, all the men appointed yesterday will join the main board when the new Leyland holding company is formed.

The five posts announced yesterday were all filled internally, confirming views that, with the exception of the new chairman, the reconstituted Leyland will be the result of a top level reshuffle rather than bringing in new blood. No decision was made yesterday on the appointment of a part-time, non-executive, chairman to succeed Lord Stokes, who has agreed to become honorary president. Nor was any statement issued on what advice the board will give shareholders on the Government’s proposals for the future of the company.

An extraordinary meeting of shareholders is to be held on Friday to consider a recommendation that the company’s borrowing powers should be widened to take advantage of the Government’s proposal to inject a further £50m into the company as a short-term measure pending the financial reconstruction of Leyland.

Keith Adams

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