Succession planning: be the best by preparing for the worst

In December 2002, Xavier Debonneuil, head of Société Générale SA’s corporate and investment banking division, was killed in a car crash leaving a gap in senior management at one of France’s biggest banks. His death came at a time of upheaval in the French banking sector with Société Générale a possible takeover target following the merger between Crédit Agricole and Crédit Lyonnais. Yet the Wall Street Journal reported a few days after the accident that “a company spokesperson had no information on any succession plans”. It eventually took over two weeks for the bank to announce his successor. Compare this with Total SA’s announcement of a successor to chief executive Christophe de Margerie just two days after Mr Margerie’s death in a plane crash at a Moscow airport in 2014. As unpleasant as it might be, companies have to think the unthinkable and have a sturdy succession plan in place. Indecision can wreak havoc on a company’s share price ICSA chief executive Simon Osborne writes. Read more…

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