Adrian Cadbury, former chairman of Cadbury Schweppes and a leader in the field of best practices in corporate governance, died Sept. 3 in Birmingham, England. He was 86.
The death was confirmed by a spokesman for Aston University, where Mr. Cadbury was chancellor from 1979 to 2004. No cause was disclosed.
Chairman from 1974 to 1989 of Cadbury Schweppes, the Britain-based food and beverage company, Mr. Cadbury was best known for heading the Committee on the Financial Aspects of Corporate Governance from 1991 to 1995. The committee was charged with investigating the British corporate governance system and restoring investors’ confidence in the system.
The group’s recommendations helped formed the bedrock of what are generally accepted as proper corporate-structure rules.
“Cadbury has become the elder statesman of the corporate-governance movement and Britain is the ‘corporate-governance capital of the world’ in the words of long-time shareholder activist and Cadbury admirer Bob Monks,” the Guardian newspaper reported in 2002.
Mr. Cadbury described his experience as chairman of the committee, which amounted to a second career after spending more than three decades in the family business, in his 2002 book “Corporate Governance and Chairmanship: A Personal View.”
A chief executive officer should not also serve as chairman, he said, because he or she would focus the board’s attention on short-term results rather than long-range planning.
“My argument is that the company should revolve around the board, which under the guidance of the chairman should establish priorities and values and see that the executives put them into practice,” he wrote.
General Motors followed Mr. Cadbury’s approach in 1992 after it replaced Robert Stempel, who was the Detroit-based automaker’s chief executive and chairman. It tapped company executive Jack Smith Jr. to be chief and named an outside director, John Smale, to serve as chairman, giving him ultimate authority to map the company’s direction, according to a 1992 New York Times story.
This management structure was unusual in the United States, although common in Britain. The move toward stricter board oversight of a chief executive gained momentum following corporate scandals such as the collapse of Robert Maxwell’s media empire after the board failed to monitor Maxwell, who was chief executive and chairman.
George Adrian Hayhurst Cadbury was born in Birmingham on April 15, 1929. He was a 1952 graduate of the University of Cambridge, where he was on the rowing team. He also rowed for the United Kingdom in the 1952 Helsinki Olympics.
In the 1950s, Mr. Cadbury went to work for the company whose roots extend back to 1824, when John Cadbury opened a Birmingham grocer’s shop that sold cocoa. Seven years later, he started the manufacturing business. The company merged with Schweppes in 1969.
From 1970 to 1994, Adrian Cadbury was a director of the Bank of England.
Information on survivors was not immediately available.