Thomas Cook Directors Quit In Board Clearout

January 6, 2012

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Thomas Cook said that three board members will leave next month, two of them early, as the travel firm shakes up its leadership after a funding crunch that triggered a collapse in its share price.

Among those to go is Bo Lerenius, who has been caught up in a string of boardroom reshuffles and corporate calamities over the last year as chairman of infrastructure firm Mouchel and a member of the audit committees at security firm G4S and property group Land Securities.

Lerenius quit Mouchel in October after contract blunders and government spending cuts triggered a slide in its share price and left the board of Land Securities in July after seven years at Britain's largest listed landlord.

The 65-year-old is still on the board of G4S, which came in for heavy criticism after a proposed GBP£5.2 billion (USD$8.07 billion) takeover of Denmark's ISS collapsed despite the company having claimed shareholder support for the deal.

Thomas Cook, the world's oldest travel firm, said non-executive directors David Allvey, Lerenius and Peter Middleton would all retire at the company's annual shareholder meeting on February 8 but that only Allvey had been due to go after nine years service.

"Bo Lerenius and Peter Middleton have decided to retire to allow the new chairman, Frank Meysman, more flexibility to refresh the board at this stage of the company's development," Thomas Cook said in a statement.

The company had previously said Meysman would conduct a review of the board, having taken up his position in December, and that he expected "to make changes to refresh and strengthen its composition."

Lerenius, a former chief executive of Stena Line and Associated British Ports, had been on the board since 2007, while Middleton, a former chief executive of Thomas Cook and Lloyd's of London, had only been a non-executive director since 2009.

Thomas Cook is currently being run by Sam Weihagen on an interim basis while it searches for a new chief executive following the August departure of Manny Fontenla-Novoa after a spate of profit warnings.

Thomas Cook said in December it would close 200 under-performing shops and 500 hotels and was lining up further disposals as it battles to cut debt and restore confidence among investors and customers following a bailout by its banks.