Co-op 'chaos' as Myners quits amid opposition to reforms

Group was 'very uncomfortable' with former City minister's plans to tear up boardroom structure

Lord Myners
(Image credit: Oli Scarff/Getty Images)

LORD MYNERS, the former City minister brought in to reform the troubled Co-operative Group just four months ago has handed in his resignation.

Myners was tasked with drawing up a blueprint to revive the fortunes of the Co-op, which is on course to report a £2bn loss next week.

But, according to The Guardian, he quit after his proposals were met with a barrage of opposition, and his departure leaves the group in "chaos".

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Myners, who took on the role of independent director for a salary of £1 in December, had planned to tear up the existing boardroom structure and replace it with a publicly listed company style model. However, the largest of the group's independent societies, the Midcounties, voted against his proposals earlier this week.

The initial findings of his review said the Co-op's elected directors had overseen "breathtakingly value-destructive" decisions, such as the group's takeovers of the Britannia building society and supermarket chain Somerfield. Too many directors did not have any serious business experience and were therefore not qualified to keep senior managers in check, he said.

The Co-op says Myners' review will continue despite his resignation, but his departure is "another significant blow for the business", reports the BBC.

The group's chief executive, Euan Sutherland, resigned last month after he described the business as "ungovernable".

Kamal Ahmed, BBC business editor, says the spate of resignations suggests that the Co-op is "very uncomfortable" with the radical changes being proposed.

"Many in the Co-op are convinced that it was not the organisation's democratic structures and mutual status that were to blame for the business's woes. Rather, they argue that it was hubristic managers who have since left," says Ahmed. "Lord Myners, who said that the governance standards he found at the Co-op were 'shocking', would beg to differ."

It has been a disastrous year for the Co-op, which revealed that its bank had a £1.5bn hole in its balance sheet last May. Its former chairman, the Reverend Paul Flowers, was also embroiled in allegations involving class A drugs.

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