Foster + Partners has claimed it has pulled off a ‘real coup’ by enticing former BP chief executive John Browne on to its board of directors.
Lord Browne of Madingley, as he is officially known, resigned from the international oil company back in May among a flurry of tabloid tales about his private life.
The influential 59-year old becomes the first senior non-executive to be appointed since a private equity company took a minority share in the practice (‘Turbo-charged’ Foster signs investment deal).
It is understood Browne, who is a president of the Royal Academy of Engineering and a trustee of both the British Museum and the Tate Gallery, has a lifelong interest in architecture and will ‘chair various committees and have an input into the strategic direction of the company’.
Speaking to the AJ, a delighted Mouzhan Majidi, chief executive of Foster + Partners said: ‘It is a real coup.’
He added: ‘For us, the decision to go for Lord Browne was a simple one – a unanimous agreement by ourselves and 3i to approach him.
He added: ‘Normally you draw up a shortlist for non-executive directors, but we didn’t need to’.
Browne, who lives ‘just around the corner from the [Battersea-based] practice’ and is a long-term friend of Foster, was first approached only a few weeks ago and has already sat on his first board meeting (on Wednesday 26 September).
Foster hopes Browne’s contacts around the globe will lead to a wealth of new opportunities for the practice, but Majidi it was too early for any indication about any particular direction that the ex-BP chief will want to steer the company.
Majidi said: ‘He has only just come on to the board and we don’t expect him to start having suggestions until he has soaked it all in.
‘[However], it will be a very interesting sort of partnership in terms of pushing our sustainability strategies.’
The chief executive also added that there was no possible repercussions after Browne lied about his gay lover in a court.
Majidi said: ‘There is nothing left hanging, not at all. We are very lucky he has joined.’
by Richard Waite