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Jan du Plessis
Credit: BT
Jan du Plessis

City insider put forward for FRC chair

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Business secretary Kwasi Kwarteng has chosen former BT chairman Jan du Plessis as his preferred candidate to become chair of the Financial Reporting Council (FRC).

22nd Dec 2021
Editor at large AccountingWEB
Columnist
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The seat at the head of the board of the UK’s main accounting regulator and standard-setter has been vacant for a year and a half after the previous incumbent Simon Dingemans quit the role after seven months.

The FRC has been in limbo for even longer than that. A new-look regulator to be known as the Audit, Reporting and Governance Authority (ARGA) has been on the cards since 2019. Despite numerous embarrassing corporate collapses – and the prospect of more to come – reform has been pushed down the government’s agenda by Brexit and the Covid-19 pandemic.

Accountancy bodies and other critics have lined up to question the terms of engagement and scope of ARGA’s activities and along with the obvious distractions, Boris Johnson’s laissez-faire stance on business regulation appears to have stalled the legislation to enable the FRC’s transition to the new entity.

So the FRC trundles on as usual under chief executive officer Jon Thomson, formerly the head of HMRC.

Distinguished track record

Du Plessis gained the FRC chairman nomination on the strength of his “distinguished track record” as chair of FTSE 100 groups BT, Rio Tinto and SAB Miller, where he presided over a £78bn sale to AB Inbev.

A Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS) announcement explained that he also served as a non-executive director at Marks & Spencer Group and Lloyds Bank. Previously he served for 16 years as chief financial officer of luxury goods company Richemont.

Having served on public company boards in the US, Canada, the Netherlands, Switzerland and Australia, du Plessis would bring “a valuable international perspective” to the role, according to BEIS.

Business secretary Kwasi Kwarteng said: “With direct experience leading some of the UK’s most prominent companies, Jan is perfectly placed to ensure strong oversight of UK plc. Restoring public confidence in audit and corporate governance will be crucial to our recovery from the pandemic, and I hope to work with Jan towards this goal.”

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