Ross Goobey out at Hermes Europe arm

UK - Alastair Ross Goobey, chairman of BT Pension Scheme-owned Hermes Focus Asset Management Europe, has stepped down over a perceived conflict of interest.

The departure is the latest upheaval at the firm, a leader in corporate governance, after the high profile departures of top executives Peter Butler and Steve Brown. Ross Goobey is a former chief executive of Hermes and is the chairman of ICGN, the International Corporate Governance Network.

A US court had demanded in May that Hermes eliminate the “perception” of conflict of interest between Ross Goobey’s role at Hermes and Morgan Stanley, where he is a senior adviser.

At issue is HFAME’s legal action against parties – including Morgan Stanley - involved in the collapse of Italian food group Parmalat Finanziaria SpA.

“Mr Ross Goobey is addressing the wish of the responsible US court to eliminate the perception of a conflict of interest that his board membership at HFAME could have given rise to,” Hermes said.

Ross Goobey remains chairman of the investment committee at HFAME and at sister company Hermes Focus Asset management.

Former Shell executive Herman van der Wyck, a non-executive director of HFAME since 2001, succeeds Ross Goobey. Van der Wyck has been involved in strategic change projects with public companies in Austria, France, Germany, Italy, the Netherlands, Portugal, Scandinavia and Spain.

“He has 40 years international business experience”, said Hermes.