Marks & Spencer Finance Chief Dyson Leaves to Become CEO of Punch Taverns

Marks & Spencer Group Plc said Finance Director Ian Dyson resigned to become chief executive officer of Punch Taverns Plc, the U.K.’s largest pub owner.

Dyson will leave “on a date to be agreed,” the London- based retailer said in a statement today. Marks shares fell 2.7 percent, to the lowest level in almost a month.

The 47-year-old executive has been finance director at the U.K.’s largest clothing retailer for almost five years, having joined from Rank Group Plc in June 2005. He had been regarded by analysts as a possible successor to CEO Stuart Rose, before Marks named William Morrison Supermarkets Plc chief Marc Bolland to the post in November. Bolland joined the company yesterday.

“It’s no real surprise, having been passed over for M&S CEO,” said Nick Coulter, an analyst at Numis Securities Ltd. He has a “hold” recommendation on the stock.

Marks dropped 9.6 pence to 351.2 pence in London trading, after earlier falling as much as 3.6 percent. Punch shares slipped 0.5 percent to 85 pence.

When London-based Marks announced the decision to hire Bolland, Rose said the Dutchman had been benchmarked against the internal candidates. “We have chosen the very best” person, he said in November.

Compensation

Dyson’s start date at Punch Taverns is still to be agreed upon. The executive has a six-month notice period, so would join in November at the latest, Punch spokesman John Kiely said by phone.

“In terms of basic pay and bonus, he would be getting less than he is currently earning at M&S,” Kiely said. Shareholders will be consulted about his future incentive plan, he added.

Dyson received 1.01 million pounds ($1.5 million) last year, compared with 698,000 pounds a year earlier.

“We understand Ian’s decision and recognize the opportunity ahead of him” Rose, who is now part-time chairman, said in a statement today. Rose is slated to leave the retailer by no later than July 2011.

In October, Dyson presented Marks & Spencer’s Project 2020 strategy, including plans to expand in China, India and eastern Europe, close more than 100 British warehouses and consider selling food online.

Opportunity

Dyson said the new role is “a very exciting opportunity and one I couldn’t ignore. It also makes great use of all my leisure and retail experience and means being the CEO of a public company.”

Dyson faces a difficult environment at Burton upon Trent, England-based Punch, which sold 547 pubs last fiscal year as higher beer taxes and a slump in consumer spending dragged first-half pretax profit down 20 percent.

The pub owner also has a debt level of 3.27 billion pounds, according to company statement in April, even after a 28 percent reduction in the last 18 months by disposing of some of its leased pub assets.

Punch Chairman Peter Cawdron said Dyson “is an exceptional hire who will add further strength to the high- caliber team at Punch.”

To contact the reporter on this story: Sarah Shannon in London at sshannon4@bloomberg.net.

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