Interserve finance chief quits weeks after rescue deal

(c) Sky News 2019: <a href="http://news.sky.com/story/interserve-finance-chief-quits-weeks-after-rescue-deal-11702271">Interserve finance chief quits weeks after rescue deal</a>
 

The finance chief of Interserve, one of Britain’s largest outsourcers, is stepping down just weeks after the company was taken over by its lenders in a rescue deal.

Sky News has learnt that Mark Whiteling, who has worked at Interserve for just 18 months, informed colleagues this week that he planned to leave to pursue a portfolio career as a non-executive director.

His departure will come little more than a month after Interserve's shares were delisted after a brief stint in administration.

The company, which employs about 40,000 people in the UK, supplies cleaning and maintenance services to government and private sector clients, as well as a broad range of construction-related activities.

Interserve is expected to launch an immediate search for Mr Whiteling's successor.

A non-executive director at the newspaper and magazine distributor Connect Group, Mr Whiteling is now expected to seek other boardroom posts.

His exit underlines the challenge facing Debbie White, the company's chief executive, as she seeks to implement a turnaround in its fortunes.

While it is no longer listed on the London stock market, Interserve's importance as a supplier to the government remains undiminished.

Its collapse into administration followed a bitter row with Coltrane Asset Management, its largest shareholder, with Interserve failing to secure investors' approval for a debt-for-equity restructuring.

The change of control immediately sparked interest in its support services arm from rival outsourcer Mitie, which has been working on a proposal to offer roughly £100m for the division.

The support services business carries out facilities management work for the government and numerous private sector clients in the UK and the Middle East.

The biggest obstacle to a deal, however, is the price Mitie is prepared to pay and that being sought by Interserve's new owners.

People close to Interserve's new shareholders, which include Royal Bank of Scotland and the hedge fund Davidson Kempner, have said they are happy to keep the group intact for the foreseeable future.

The company's brief skirmish with bankruptcy came just 14 months after the collapse of Carillion, and has raised fresh questions about the outsourcing sector's ability to finance itself.

Interserve declined to comment.