Government sets up group to oversee how large private companies are run

James wates cbe

James Wates has been appointed as the chairman to an industry group that will aim to help improve how large companies are run.

As part of the government’s package of corporate governance reforms, the Wates chairman (pictured) will work with the Financial Reporting Council, the Institute of Directors, the TUC and others to draw up the UK’s first-ever set of guiding principles for large private companies.

The government said they are aimed at ensuring that these firms are transparent and accountable, addressing concerns that a minority are falling short of the standards expected.

It will also introduce new laws this year requiring all large firms to show their responsible business arrangements, which it said will help build the public’s trust in big business.

These laws will apply to companies with either 2,000 employees or turnover above £200m and a balance sheet over £2bn.

Business secretary Greg Clark commended the relevant wealth of experience held by Wates, which also includes leading roles advising Infrastructure Exports: UK and at think-tank Tomorrow’s Company. 

“The UK is rightly recognised as having a world-leading business environment and responsible business practices – a key part of our Industrial Strategy,” said Clark. 

“But concerns that some companies are stepping out of line by ignoring employees’ concerns need to be addressed and that is why I am delighted to appoint a chair to lead this important step change in the way large private companies are run.”

Wates added: “I hope that the standards produced through this effort will help promote and enable ever-stronger and more consistent corporate governance amongst large private companies, which generate significant value for the UK economy and society.”