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James Wates confirmed as chair of corporate review

James Wates has been appointed to chair a government panel set up to review how private companies are run.

The Wates chairman is tasked with leading the group in drawing up the UK’s first ever set of guidelines for how large private companies conduct themselves.

Guidelines produced by the panel will apply to companies with more than 2,000 employees, or with a turnover higher than £200m and a balance sheet over £2bn.

The group includes representatives from the Financial Reporting Council, Institute of Directors, the TUC and the Confederation of British Industry, amongst others.

Confirming the appointment, business secretary Greg Clark said: “The UK is rightly recognised as having a world-leading business environment and responsible business practices – a key part of our industrial strategy.

“But concerns that some companies are stepping out of line by ignoring employees’ concerns need to be addressed, and that is why I am delighted to appoint a chair to lead this important step-change in the way large private companies are run.

“James has a wealth of relevant experience and I wish him every success in his new role.”

It was reported that Mr Wates’ appointment had been due to be announced last week, but was delayed in the wake of Carillion’s collapse and the increased scrutiny of industry practices.

Mr Wates said: “I am delighted to have been asked to chair this very important piece of work.

“I hope that the standards produced through this effort will help promote and enable ever-stronger and more consistent corporate governance amongst large private companies, which generate significant value for the UK economy and society.”

Wates, the 12th largest construction company in 2017, saw its chief executive Andrew Davies leave in November.

He was due to become the new boss of Carillion on 22 January, but the company collapsed one week before his start date.

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