Sir Richard V. Giordano
We are very sad to announce the passing of Sir Richard V. Giordano KBE, the Chairman of our CC Energy company for the past 17 years. He died on December 27, 2022, at 88 years of age in Florida, surrounded by his family.
Sir Richard was an iconic American business leader who led a transformation of British corporate culture. Born on March 24, 1934, in the Bronx, New York, Sir Richard was the youngest son of Italian immigrants. A proud product of New York City public schools, he graduated from Stuyvesant High School followed by Harvard College in 1956 and Columbia Law School in 1959.
After working as a lawyer at Shearman & Sterling in New York City, Sir Richard took a job with a client, Airco, a then Fortune 500 firm, being named President by the age of 37. Overseas competitor BOC (British Oxygen Corp) launched a hostile takeover for Airco in 1978 and won. Instead of losing his job, he was invited to London to run the merged companies and became Britain’s highest paid executive. This earned him notoriety in the British press long after his salary was surpassed by others, and he transitioned to non-executive Chairman in 1994.
Sir Richard retired from his full-time leadership role at the BOC Group in 1990 and received an honorary knighthood in 1989. This reflected not only his contributions to British industry but also leadership on the UK Central Electricity Generating Board and as Non-executive director of National Power.
In 1994, Sir Richard joined British Gas as Non-Executive Chairman some years after it had been very successfully privatized by the British Government and was in serious difficulty. Its share price was at an all -time low and the many members of the public who added the shares to their retirement portfolios, were likely wondering how they might actually retire. A traditional corporate leader would most likely decide on a strategy to make the company bigger. But Sir Richard, after study and consultation, concluded that he saw three different companies in British Gas: a gas marketing company - Centrica, a utility - Lattice a regulated infrastructure company and BG Group, an exploration and production company. When he joined British Gas its market value was roughly £12 billion. When he left, the three companies that he created were collectively worth at least nine times more.
A former executive colleague said that “Dick was a larger-than-life figure who laid the foundation stone for BG Group and gave us all a once in a lifetime opportunity”.
In 1999, Sir Richard joined the board of the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace and served as Chairman of the Board of Trustees from 2009 until 2013. He also served on the boards of Georgia-Pacific, Rio Tinto, Reuters, and Grand Metropolitan.
He was a very effective and respected Chairman on all the Boards that he served and once, having been asked about the role of a non-executive Chairman, he famously remarked that there was no such thing!
Sir Richard was appointed as Chairman of CC Energy in 2005. His appointment was a prescient move by Said Khoury, the co-founder, Chairman and patriarch of the family owning the CCC group of companies. Sir Richard proceeded to take on the role of not just Chairman, but a father figure to the CC Energy employees and the next generation of CCC’s owners, especially after the passing of their father.
He helped lead the transformation of a small exploration investment company, to what is today an internationally respected oil and gas company. In mid-2022, he announced his intention to retire in 2024 when he would have been 90! It is emblematic of him that he chaired a two-day CC Energy board meeting just eleven days before his death. He is the embodiment of the expression “dying with one’s boots on”!
He built a family spirit in the company among the shareholders, members of the board and employees and their families. He was loved by all from the front desk to the boardroom. All meetings were preceded and concluded around a dinner table. He was always clear about what needed doing and he made sure it was done. Woe betide any executive that did not deliver on the action points agreed!
He touched the lives of many people, regardless of their role or position and although he was tough on his executives, he understood the challenges of leadership and balanced both reward and challenge.
He always had a steady hand at the helm, and he will be dearly missed as a leader, a father figure, a friend by all of us in the CCC group of companies.
Sir Richard is survived by his wife Lady Marguerite.