By Paul Bradshaw and Rebecca Ratcliffe
Rupert Soames is having a very good year. In addition to netting a £7m bonus this year on top of his £1.39m salary, and seeing the company’s share price shoot up, he will have the opportunity to carry the Olympic torch through Wandsworth – thanks to his position as chief executive of the “Official Temporary Energy Services Provider to the London 2012 Games“.
Soames is one of four of Aggreko’s seven executive directors to be found among the list of Olympic torchbearers – although not one mentions the company in their nomination story:
- Bill Caplan, Managing Director Europe and Middle East, gets to carry the torch through Dorking.
- 49-year-old Kash Pandya from Dubai, Aggreko’s Regional Director International, has a spot carrying the torch through Kingston Upon Thames.
- 56-year-old Peter Kennerley – the Company Secretary and Legal Director – is carrying the torch through Girvan.
- In addition, Soames’s PA, Sheila McNeill, also carried the torch through Luss.
None of the four non-executive directors on the board, from outside the company, were found on the list of torchbearers.
Olympics minister Hugh Robertson recently said that the Olympic organisers LOCOG had written to sponsors and “discouraged them from allowing executives to run with the torch and encouraged them to find as many local champions as possible”.
Aggreko is the latest company to emerge to have disregarded this advice.
Soames, the 53-year-old chief executive of Aggreko, does not provide a nomination story on his torchbearer page so it is hard to judge how he fulfils the LOCOG guidelines to sponsors that torchbearers represent “youth”, “personal bests and/or contribution to the community”.
His background, however, is well known. The son of Lord and Lady Soames, Rupert was educated at Eton and Oxford, and is the brother and brother-in-law respectively of Conservative MPs Nicholas Soames and Philip Dunne.
His company Aggreko are pocketing a reported £50m for providing temporary power at the games. Talking about the deal following a trip to the far east in April with David Cameron, Soames said he hoped the Olympics would help showcase his company, “provided we don’t make a Horlicks of it”.
Nominations for torchbearers at Aggreko were reportedly:
“put forward by senior managers to the UK board taking into consideration voluntary work, charity fundraising and how individuals have contributed to the company over the years. “
It is not clear who nominated the board members themselves.
In addition to the four directors, the company has also nominated some employees to carry the torch. Andrew Wotton, Aggreko’s Major Accounts Manager, is the only one, however, that the company has spoken publicly about.
But while Wotton’s story does mention voluntary work and charity fundraising, these are barely mentioned in the nomination stories of other employees given the opportunity to carry the Olympic torch: Chief Information Officer Tom Armstrong and senior analyst Dennis Cooper.
At 50 and 48 years old respectively they don’t qualify under the youth requirement of LOCOG’s guidance. Nor do their stories – written by themselves – make any particular mention of volunteering or fundraising. This contrasts with other sponsors who overwhelmingly nominated members of staff and children who raised money for charity, had achieved sporting milestones, or volunteered in their local community.
Aggreko were asked on Tuesday by both Help Me Investigate and BBC Radio WM to explain how the directors came to be nominated to carry the torch, but have so far declined to comment.
A full table of the Aggreko torchbearers we have identified so far will be published on Help Me Investigate the Olympics next week.