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The Men Who Run TUI Travel PLC

Management can make all the difference to a company’s success and thus its share price.

The best companies are those run by talented and experienced leaders with strong vested interests in the success of the business, held in check by a board with sound financial and business acumen. Some of the worst investments to hold are those run by executives collecting fat rewards as the underlying business goes to pot.

In this series, I’m assessing the boardrooms of companies within the FTSE 100. I hope to separate the management teams that are worth following from those that are not. Today I am looking at TUI Travel (LSE: TT), the UK’s largest travel company in which TUI AG has a 56% controlling interest.

Here are the key directors:

Director Position
Friedrich Joussen (non-exec) Chairman
Peter Long Chief Executive
Johan Lundgren Deputy Chief Executive
William Waggott Finance Director
Dr Volker Böttcher Managing Director, German specialist businesses

Appointed as CEO of parent TUI AG in February this year, Friedrich Joussen became chairman of TUI Travel in March. Prior to joining TUI AG last year, he was CEO of Vodafone Germany for eight years, and chief operating officer for two years before that. His prior career was spent with Mannesman Mobilfunk (mobile) from 1988 until its acquisition by Vodafone. As a sop to his lack of independence, TUI Travel’s senior independent director is given the title of deputy chairman.

Merger

Peter Long has been CEO since 2007 when First Choice Holidays merged with the tourism division of TUI AG (including Thomson Travel) to form TUI Travel. He had been First Choice’s CEO since 1999, and had held finance and executive roles in the leisure industry before that. TUI Travel’s shares have risen 45% since its formation, against a 7% rise for the FTSE 100 and a 45% decline for struggling (and now recovering) competitor Thomas Cook.

Johan Lundgren has been on the board since 2007, and was elevated to deputy chief executive in 2011. He has 26 years experience in the travel industry, coming from the TUI AG side of the 2007 merger.

William Waggott also joined the board in 2007, as commercial director, becoming finance director in 2010. A chartered accountant, he worked in finance roles with Courtaulds before joining Airtours and later Thomson Travel, a TUI AG subsidiary, prior to the 2007 merger.

Volker Böttcher has also been a director since 2007. A former lawyer, he moved from legal to managerial roles within the travel sector in Germany, and was CEO of TUI Germany immediately prior to the merger.

Unwieldy

TUI Travel’s board includes two directors of TUI AG, its finance director and its “operating performance director”. In addition to the deputy chairman there are seven independent non execs, making for eight independents facing up against seven group employees on an unwieldy 15-strong board.

I analyse management teams from five different angles to help work out a verdict. Here’s my assessment:

1. Reputation. Management CVs and track record.

Good.

 Score 4/5

2. Performance. Success at the company.

Good. 

Score 4/5

3. Board Composition. Skills, experience, balance.

Barely independent. 

 Score 2/5

4. Remuneration. Fairness of pay, link to performance.

Uncontroversial. 

 Score 3/5

5. Directors’ Holdings, compared to their pay.

CEO has £12m-worth, other execs £1m plus. 

 Score 4/5

Overall, TUI Travel scores 17 out of 25, a middling result. The company has fared well under the current leadership, in a difficult economic environment, but in truth operates more as a subsidiary of TUI AG than as an independent company, an impression reinforced by regular speculation of TUI AG buying out the minority shareholders.

I’ve collated all my FTSE 100 boardroom verdicts on this summary page.

Buffett’s favourite FTSE share

Legendary investor Warren Buffett has always looked for impressive management teams when picking stocks. His recent acquisition, Heinz, has long had a reputation for strong management. Indeed Mr Buffett praised its “excellent management” alongside its high quality products and continuous innovation.

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> Tony owns shares in Vodafone, but no other shares mentioned in this article. The Motley Fool has recommended Vodafone.