3i has unveiled its new chief executive, snatching Philip Yea from under the noses of UK property company British Land.
Yea is currently a managing director at Investcorp, the Bahrain-based global private equity firm. A statement from 3i said he would take over from current incumbent Brian Larcombe soon after the 3i AGM on 7 July, and “on completion of various projects at Investcorp.”
A report in today’s Financial Times said British Land insiders had spoken of “irritation” at the firm after Yea unexpectedly withdrew his candidacy yesterday for the position of chief executive at the property company which, like 3i, is included in the FTSE 100 index on the London Stock Exchange.
British Land director Chris Gibson-Smith said in a statement: “The board had identified a suitable candidate and thought that it had settled detailed terms with him but, very much to the board’s regret, he yesterday informed us that he had decided to withdraw for reasons not connected with British Land.”
The announcement is a historic one for 3i, as it is the first time it has appointed a CEO from outside the organisation. When Larcombe announced in March his intention to resign, 3i appointed executive search firm Spencer Stuart to identify suitable external as well as internal candidates.
Yea joined Investcorp in 1999 as a managing director in its private equity business. He had previously been group finance director at Diageo from 1997 to 1999, and prior to that finance director at Guinness from 1993 to 1997, where he led the merger with Grand Metropolitan that led to the creation of Diageo. He is currently a member of the board at HBOS and is the senior independent director of Manchester United.
“To be offered the CEO role in the premier quoted private equity and venture capital business is a great opportunity,” said Yea. “3i is a company I have long admired, it has huge potential to grow and as yesterday’s results showed, a strong platform from which to do so.”
3i’s preliminary annual results yesterday showed it was back on track after two years of hardship. The firm turned a £935 million total net loss in the previous year into a £531 million total net profit.