Tate & Lyle under pressure as FD departs

Tate & Lyle has been left with only an interim finance director after
John Nicholas left this week.

Nicholas will receive a year’s salary of £417,000 and has only days to go
before he leaves Tate & Lyle at the end of the month, while the head of
investor relations, Tim Lodge, will fill the role in the interim.

The company’s CEO Iain Ferguson said this week: ‘It was amicable. Both sides
reflected that it was not working out as well as we had hoped.’

An analyst said: ‘Both the CEO and the CFO were under the cosh last year,
with three profit warnings. Many people were surprised heads didn’t roll then.’

The global food and industrial ingredients manufacturer couched the
announcement in a statement referring to ‘very difficult’ market conditions as
well as unexpected problems in commission equipment at a US corn mill.

The sour news ­ along with a trading statement that Tate & Lyle would
take an unexpected £25m to £30m hit in costs to revamp a US mill, which it said
should be offset by better corn by-product prices next year ­ saw shares fall 7%

Analysts said Nicholas had done good work helping to improve governance at
the food giant.

‘The job he really has done was tighten the internal controls,’ an analyst
But others have been unhappy with the company’s guidance on tax issues. ‘There
were several changes and people felt [they] could have done a better job on
that,’ a senior analyst said.

Other analysts said the departure of Nicholas would not have a huge impact on
the market’s view of the company.

Graham Jones, an analyst at stockbroker Panmure Gordon, said in a note: ‘John
Nicholas’ short and troubled tenure has come to an end but we doubt this will
materially change sentiment in Tate.’

It is thought that it will take between three and nine months to find and
appoint an FD.

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