Morrisons Potts Leahy

Morrisons CEO David Potts and CD&R special advisor Terry Leahy in front of a statue of Ken Morrison

Morrisons has today officially ceased trading as a publicly listed company after more than 50 years on the London Stock Exchange, with the majority of its board stepping down.

The £7.1bn takeover by US private equity firm Clayton Dubilier & Rice (CD&R) was rubber-stamped by the High Court on Monday (25 October) following shareholders voting in favour of the deal earlier this month.

As a result, the listing of Morrisons shares on the main market of the London Stock Exchange were suspended with effect from 7.30am this morning.

Chairman Andy Higginson, who orchestrated the intense bidding war between CD&R and rival suitor Fortress Investment Group, and directors Rooney Anand, Susanne Given, Kevin Havelock, Lyssa McGowan and Jeremy Townsend, all tendered their resignations and stepped down from the board with immediate effect.

CEO David Potts, COO Trevor Strain and CFO Michael Gleeson will remain on the board, with CD&R yet to announce its own appointments. Senior advisor Terry Leahy is expected to be named chairman of the newly private group.

Leahy and Potts, who previously worked together during Leahy’s time as Tesco CEO, marked the completion of the deal with an official photo shoot in front of a statue of Ken Morrison, who built the Bradford-headquartered chain into a multibillion-pound business.

Morrison, who died aged 85 in 2017, took the family business public in 1967.

Leahy talked up his connection with Morrison during the takeover battle as CD&R increased its offer by £1.5bn to £7bn in August. He said: “I knew Ken well, and I understand the vision and the values he built the business upon. Those values are now championed by David Potts and the wider team.”

CD&R went on to outbid Fortress by 1p with a 287p-a-share offer in a one-day auction earlier this month.

Former Greene King CEO Rooney Anand joined the Morrisons board in January 2016, becoming interim chairman of the corporate compliance and responsibility committee in April 2020.

Jeremy Townsend, who has held various senior finance roles at Sainsbury’s in the past, joined the supermarket as non-executive director in July 2020 and was appointed as chairman of the audit committee in 2020.

Kevin Havelock, a former member of the executive committee at Unilever and a current non-exec at Fever-Tree, joined the Morrisons board in February 2018 and was appointed as chairman of the remuneration committee in April 2020.

Susanne Given, who was group director of fashion and beauty at John Lewis Partnership from 2011 to 2012, joined the board in August 2020. And Lyssa McGowan, who is currently chief consumer officer at Sky UK, joined the board as non-exec in August 2020.