Thames Water, the UK’s largest water company, has named Chris Weston, a former executive from British Gas, as its new Chief Executive Officer (CEO), bringing with him a compensation package of up to £2.3 million annually. Weston is entrusted with the pivotal task of leading a significant turnaround amidst escalating debts and controversies surrounding sewage disposal in British waterways.
Replacing Sarah Bentley, who resigned in June amid environmental criticism, Chris Weston assumes the role on January 8. Bentley faced backlash for the company’s environmental record, prompting the need for a strategic turnaround under new leadership.
Weston’s Background and Compensation
Chris Weston, formerly the CEO of Aggreko and a seasoned executive at Centrica, takes charge with extensive experience. His pay package includes an £850,000 annual salary, £102,000 in pension payments, and a £15,000 car allowance. An additional potential bonus of up to 156% of his salary could bring his total annual compensation to £2.3 million.
Thames Water’s Financial and Environmental Challenges
Thames Water, serving 15 million customers in London and the Thames Valley, grapples with a debt burden of £18 billion. Seeking a cash injection of £1.5 billion from shareholders, the company also plans a 40% increase in customer bills for crucial investments amid rising pollution incidents, infrastructure challenges, and ongoing sewage discharges.
Regulatory Scrutiny and Financial Investigations
The company faces scrutiny from regulator Ofwat, currently investigating £37.5 million dividends paid to Kemble Water Limited, its parent company, potentially breaching license terms. Executives warn that rejection of the business plan and proposed bill increases could lead to significant difficulties for Thames Water.
Chairman’s Confidence in Weston’s Leadership
Thames Water Chairman Adrian Montague expresses confidence in Chris Weston, highlighting his track record in regulated environments and expertise in turning around business performance. Weston aims to deliver the outlined turnaround plan, emphasizing the critical role of Thames Water in society and the UK.
Weston’s Commitment to Restoration
Chris Weston acknowledges the critical importance of restoring confidence in Thames Water’s operations and financial position. He articulates a focus on delivering the outlined turnaround plan and improving performance over the next few years, recognizing the business’s significance to both society and the UK.