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Sat December 07 2019

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Interserve scraps group chief executive role

15 Nov Interserve’s chief executive is leaving the company and will not be replaced as the group is being restructured into three separate businesses.

Interserve chairman Alan Lovell, mastermind behind the new structure
Interserve chairman Alan Lovell, mastermind behind the new structure

Interserve Construction Limited, Equipment Services and Support Services will each have its own managing director and chairman.

The chair of each division will sit on the group board, chaired by Alan Lovell. There will be no group chief executive role after the departure of Debbie White at the end of December 2019.  Instead, the group-wide functions will be led by chief financial officer Mark Morris.

Interserve Construction Limited will be chaired by Nick Pollard, who has been a non-executive director of the group since 2018. Paul Gandy, who joined Interserve in October this year, continues as managing director. The International Construction business will continue to be led by George Franks, reporting into Nick Pollard.

Nick Pollard
Nick Pollard

The Equipment Services division, better known as RMD Kwikform, will continue to be led by its chairman Ken Hanna and Ian Hayes as managing director.

Support Services will be chaired by group chairman Alan Lovell. Lynn Mawdsley, previously deputy CFO, has been appointed as managing director. She joined Interserve in January 2019 from Sodexo.

The restructuring, and the departure of Debbie White, follow on from the change of ownership of the business earlier this year. Interserve Group, at the time publicly listed, fell into administration in March 2019 but was swiftly sold to its lenders in a carefully planned move to keep it trading. The business is now owned by a group that includes banks RBS and HSBC, and investors Emerald Asset Management and Davidson Kempner Capital.

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In July the banks brought in Alan Lovell as chairman. He is used to being called on by banks to help sort out distressed companies. He was chief executive of Conder, Costain and Jarvis at various difficult times and his non-executive appointments have included Carillion and Safestyle.

Interserve said that Debbie White had signalled her desire to move on back in March after the shareholder restructuring was complete. Even though she had been in the job for less than 18 months, she felt that the she had completed the task that she had been hired to do – saving the business.

Debbie White
Debbie White

Alan Lovell paid tribute to her: “Debbie leaves Interserve with the greatest respect of the board. In her time here, she has worked tirelessly to turn the business around and has steered the group through a period of unprecedented uncertainty, which included securing a critical refinancing. She led the group’s ‘Fit for Growth’ initiative, transforming Interserve into a more agile business, with reduced costs and a more competitive value proposition. On behalf of the board and all at Interserve, I would like to thank her for the huge contribution that she has made through such a critical and challenging period for the business.”

Debbie White said: “The past two years at Interserve have been the most demanding of my professional career. As a management team, we fought to deliver a stronger financial platform for the business from which it can move forward. Whilst we were ultimately unable to secure sufficient shareholder support for the proposed deleveraging plan, under new ownership, we were able to reduce the group’s debt which alongside the successful delivery of the company wide transformation programme, was critical to securing the future of the group.

“I am grateful for the support of our customers, suppliers and the UK government during this period. Most importantly, I am grateful to the many fantastic people I have worked alongside at Interserve, and I wish them every success in the future.”

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