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Continental governance practices at Aveva aren’t right for the City

Jim Armitage
 (Evening Standard / eyevine)
(Evening Standard / eyevine)

It’s never a great look when your CEO suddenly quits a few weeks after a monster acquisition.

You know what shareholders are going to ask: Has something gone wrong with the deal? Who is going to integrate it now? How fast can I sell my shares and leg it?

Software group Aveva knew this all too well when Craig Hayman resigned weeks after buying OSIsoft for $5 billion — nearly half the company’s entire value.

Aveva is no conventional top 50 UK plc. Formed from a merger three years back with part of Schneider Electric, it is now 60% owned by the French giant.

And they have come up with an extremely unconventional solution to the Hayman Problem.

Rather than install an interim CEO and launch a global search for a permanent replacement, they simply shipped in a Schneider honcho to do the job.

Big mistake. The impression Aveva’s minority shareholders now have is that they no longer call the shots. The French do.

Even if the new guy can do the job, how do they know he’s the best candidate if there’s been no worldwide search?

Schneider chief Jean-Pascal Tricoire has tried to shush complaints, saying he’s committed to Aveva’s independence.

That would be the same M Tricoire who acts as both judge and jury over his decisions, combining the roles of chairman and chief executive.

We don’t do that here. Just as we don’t tend to have muddy appointment processes dictated by cross-shareholdings from fellow industrial companies.

We would prefer to keep it that way.

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