Pace chief goes in board shake-up

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TV technology company Pace has parted company with its chief operating officer David McKinney in a second boardroom shake up after the departure of chief executive Neil Gaydon.

The Saltaire-based company recently announced a new five-year plan to revitalise the company following three profit warnings and a slump in the group’s share price last year.

Pace is scrapping the role of chief operating officer to remove a tier of management and give new chief executive Mike Pulli direct access to the key parts of the business.

Pace also said yesterday that Mr Pulli’s former position as president of Pace Americas will be filled by Tim O’Loughlin.

Mr O’Loughlin is currently senior vice president of sales and customer support, with responsibility for Pace’s cable business in the Americas.

Further shuffling at the top had been expected and the market welcomed the news of the two appointments.

The group’s shares closed up seven per cent last night, a rise of 5.25p to 79p.

Pace will hope the new appointments will provide the fresh blood needed to get the company back on its feet.

Chairman Allan Leighton said: “The new senior structure gives the chief executive direct line of sight to the critical areas of the business.”

The shake-up means that the five key directors who previously reported to Mr McKinney will now report directly to the new chief executive Mike Pulli.

The five directors include the new president of Pace Americas Tim O’Loughlin, president of Pace Enterprise and Europe Mark Loughran, finance director Stuart Hall, human resources director Jill Ezard and company secretary Anthony Dixon.

Speaking yesterday after Mr McKinney’s departure, Mr Leighton said: “It’s important to acknowledge the significant contribution that David has made to Pace over the last six years in building its operational capabilities.

“We wish him all the best for the future.”

Commenting on Mr O’Loughlin’s appointment as president of Pace Americas, Mr Pulli said: “Tim has worked at Pace for over a decade, including eight years as part of my Americas leadership team, and is extremely well respected both within the company and by our customers and partners.

“His appointment as president ensures continuity of leadership and the customer relationships that are critical to our continued growth in this region.”

As president of Pace Americas, Mr O’Loughlin will oversee the company’s business in the United States, Canada and parts of Latin America. He will have responsibility for a team of 1,500 and revenues of £1.1bn.

Pace issued three profits warnings last year due to a range of problems including the severe flooding in Thailand, the Japanese tsunami and a delayed order from a large US customer.

In November it warned that the devastating floods which hit in Thailand could cost it up to £32m this year.

Two key suppliers of hard disk drives, Western Digital and Seagate, have been badly affected by the worst floods in Thailand in over 50 years.

Pace said the solution was not as simple as switching supply to another country as Western Digital and Seagate account for 60 to 70 per cent of the global supply of hard disk drives.

Pace is in talks with smaller players in the market, Hitachi and Samsung, to see if they can mop up some of the company’s demand.

In the strategic review announced last November, Pace said that a key part of the company’s restructuring would be a reorganisation of the European business.

Pace has not disclosed details about the reorganisation, but the group has been in talks with the French workers’ council.

The strategic review concluded that Pace operates in markets that are growing and profitable, but it said that a sharpened focus is needed.

The group will also develop its software and services offering.