M&S chairman to help boost commercial awareness in Whitehall

THE chairman of Marks & Spencer has been appointed to head up the body responsible for managing businesses owned by the taxpayer, writes Bernard Ginns.

Robert Swannell, chairman of M&S since 2011
Robert Swannell, chairman of M&S since 2011

Robert Swannell, a City banker who was raised in North Yorkshire, will chair the advisory board of the Government’s Shareholder Executive.

This looks after a group of 20 state-owned businesses from organisations as large as the Nuclear Decommissioning Authority to smaller businesses like Working Links, which delivers the Government’s Work Programme.

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It also advises on the sale of Government assets, including the disposal last November of a student loan book for £160m.

Business Minister Michael Fallon said: “I’m delighted that we have been able to attract someone of Robert’s stature to this key position.

“His balance of experience between the City and the wider commercial world will be a real asset to the Shareholder Executive’s important work.”

Mr Swannell spent 30 years as an investment banker at Schroders and Citigroup.

He takes up the role in September as the Shareholder Executive tries to boost commercial awareness in the corridors of Whitehall.

Mark Russell, chief executive, said Mr Swannell’s experience and expertise will be vital in helping to meet the challenges and opportunities ahead.