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Lord Grabiner defends corporate governance relating to BHS sale

Lord Grabiner, director and non-executive chairman at Taveta Investments, has defended the corporate governance relating to the disposal of BHS, explaining there was no obligation for him to be a member of the group that conducted the sale of the chain to Retail Acquisitions under UK law.

Taveta Investments is the company through which Arcadia Group owners the Green family hold their UK retail interests, which used to include BHS.

Grabiner had been criticised by Frank Field MP, chair of the work and pensions select committee, as part of the inquiry into the collapse of BHS, for not attending a board meeting on March 10 2015, where the sale of BHS was agreed.

However he said that, as Taveta is a private company, the UK Corporate Governance Code does not apply and this has been confirmed by the Financial Reporting Council.

“If, hypothetically, all the non-executive directors had been invited to the meeting I do not believe the outcome would have been any different,” he added.

“The events that have unfolded are deeply regrettable but the suggestion that those events are the consequence of a failure of governance is misconceived.”

He also wanted to “correct the impression that members of the committees have conveyed that board members simply do whatever Sir Philip [Green] tells them to do”.

“I am obviously well able to exercise independent judgement,” he said. “I have never held back from asserting myself including where there may be a difference of views.”

He argued that the nature of the group’s businesses is not such that there are “many issues of high controversy”, but said there was robust debate surrounding the launch of Topshop/Topman into North America in 2012.

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