Smurfit joins Menzies as chairman

John Menzies chairman Dermot Smurfit

Edinburgh-based aviation logistics and news distribution company John Menzies has appointed Irish paper and packaging tycoon Dermot Smurfit as independent chairman of the group.

Smurfit’s appointment will be effective from the next Menzies board meeting on July 25.

Dermot Jenkinson, who had assumed the position of Menzies chairman on an interim basis following the sudden retirement of Iain Napier in May, will continue as a non-executive director.

Menzies has been under pressure from activist shareholders to split into two separate companies in aviation and distribution — and hire an independent chairman.

The company said in May its board was evaluating “the optimal structure for the group.”

The sudden retirement of Napier after the firm’s annual general meeting in May was just the latest dramatic twist in a turbulent year at Menzies which has also seen the company’s chief executive and chief financial officer both announce they would leave the firm.

Smurfit brings a wealth of high-profile experience to the Menzies board.

He is currently chairman of Finnish paper and packaging company Powerflute and investment firm ML Capital and is a non-executive director of Timber Capital and The Forest Company Limited.

He previously held a number of positions within the Jefferson Smurfit Group and was latterly deputy chairman and world vice president of sales and marketing.

Jenkinson said: “I am delighted to be able to appoint a chairman of the calibre of Dr Smurfit.

“As previously announced I had committed, at short notice, to act as chairman until such time as a suitable candidate had been found.

“The obvious qualities that Dr Smurfit possesses and his availability to assume the chairman responsibilities immediately meant I was happy to recommend his appointment.

“I am confident that Dr Smurfit will be a great asset to the group.”

Smurfit said: “I am honoured and proud to have been appointed chairman of John Menzies plc which is an exceptionally strong brand highly trusted by its customers and look forward to assisting the group in achieving significant growth in the coming years.”