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The Men Who Run the Weir Group

Tony Reading
March 22, 2013

LONDON -- Management can make all the difference to a company's success and thus its share price.

The best companies are those run by talented and experienced leaders with strong vested interests in the success of the business, held in check by a board with sound financial and business acumen. Some of the worst investments to hold are those run by executives collecting fat rewards as the underlying business goes to pot.

In this series, I'm assessing the boardrooms of companies within the FTSE 100 (UKX). I hope to separate the management teams that are worth following from those that are not. Today I am looking at Glasgow-based pump-maker Weir Group (LSE: WEIR).

Here are the key directors:



Lord Smith of Kelvin

(non-exec) Chairman

Keith Cochrane

Chief Executive

Jon Stanton

Finance Director

Another chairmanship
Lord Smith of Kelvin has been chairman since 2002, and has also chaired the bigger FTSE 100 member SSE since 2005. A chartered accountant, he is a former chairman of the BBC and CEO of Morgan Grenfell Asset Management.

In addition to sitting as a crossbench life peer and holding a slew of public service appointments, he is also chairman of the new Green Investment Bank. If I were a Weir shareholder I'd be concerned whether the company gets his full attention.

Results at this job better than the last
Keith Cochrane is also a chartered accountant, and was finance director from 2006 to 2009, when he was elevated to CEO.

Cochrane started his career with Arthur Andersen in Glasgow, and moved to Perth-based Stagecoach after working on its flotation. He rose to become finance director and then CEO of Stagecoach under executive chairman and founder Brian Souter.

This was a turbulent time for Stagecoach, with Cochrane spending half his time in the U.S. trying to turn around its troubled acquisition Coach USA, and he resigned in 2002 after disappointing results.

He joined Scottish Power in 2003 and was effectively deputy finance director, having been passed over for the top job in favor of Simon Lowth, now AstraZeneca's finance director. Cochrane's leadership of Weir has been more fruitful, with the shares tripling during his tenure as CEO.

First FD role
Jon Stanton is in his first finance director role, having joined Weir in 2010 from Ernst & Young. Staunton had joined Ernst & Young in 1988, becoming a partner in 2001, and was in charge of the audit of FTSE 250 engineer Invensis.

Weir has six non-execs. They are an impressive bunch for such a small FTSE 100 constituent, led by senior independent director Lord Robertson of Port Ellen, the former defense secretary and NATO Secretary General. Weir is remarkably well-represented in the House of Lords.

Notably there are non-execs with backgrounds in each of Weir's three ma