Business

Top British CEO among those dead in Australia seaplane crash

MELBOURNE: The chief executive officer (CEO) of British-based Compass Group, the world's biggest catering firm, and four of his family members were among the six people who died when the seaplane they were travelling in crashed into a Sydney river on New Year's Eve.

Mr Richard Cousins, 58, died alongside his fiancee Emma Bowden, 48, her daughter, Heather, 11, and his sons, Edward, 23, and William, 25, according to Detective Superintendent Mark Hutchings from the New South Wales Police.

Mr Cousins had been due to retire on March 31. Compass said the new CEO, Mr Dominic Blakemore, would now start yesterday instead of on April 1 as originally planned, following the news.

The seaplane's pilot, Mr Gareth Morgan, 44, also died in the crash.

DSP Hutchings said the police had already been in contact with the British authorities.

Compass chairman Paul Walsh said yesterday: "The thoughts of everyone at Compass are with Richard's family and friends, and we extend our deepest sympathies to them.

"Richard was known and respected for his great humanity and a no-nonsense style that transformed Compass into one of Britain's leading companies."

Mr Cousins led Compass the past 11 years after quitting as senior independent director of supermarket giant Tesco.

He has been widely credited with turning the company's business around and making Compass into one of the FTSE 100's best-performing firms.

Mr Cousins had also been named as one of the world's best-performing CEO by Harvard Business Review.

WRECKAGE

The police are working with the Australian Transport Safety Bureau to recover the plane's wreckage, which is submerged in 13m of water near Cowan, north of Sydney.

A probe into the cause of the crash has begun, with a preliminary report expected within 30 days. The authorities have warned it may take up to a year to find out what happened.

The seaplane was part of the Sydney Seaplanes business, which has operated since 2005 with no previous record of mishap. Seaplane flights have been cancelled until further notice. - REUTERS

WORLD