The Conservative government has opened itself up to accusations of cronyism after Dominic Johnson (pictured), who co-founded Somerset Capital Management with Jacob Rees-Mogg in 2007, was named a minister of state jointly in the department for international trade and the cabinet office on 2 October.
As such, Johnson has left his position as chief executive of emerging markets specialist Somerset Capital. A long-standing supporter of the Tories, he was vice chairman of the Conservative Party between 2016 and 2019 and, according to reports from the Financial Times, he was exploring options to sell the firm last month and move full-time into politics.
Business secretary Rees-Mogg left the firm in 2019 to become leader of the house of commons in Boris Johnson’s government.
Oliver Crawley, partner at Somerset Capital Management, said that the departure of both founders presented an opportunity to re-organise the firm’s capital structure and “allow an ownership that is focused on incentivising the next generation of talent in the business”.
Aside from his association with Rees-Mogg, departing CEO Johnson has long had a connection with the Conservative Party and was awarded a CBE in the 2017 New Years Honours list. In November 2020, he was appointed a non-executive board member of the Department for International Trade ahead of the final Brexit negotiations.
He is also purported to have donated more than £250,000 to the party.
His successor, Robert Diggle, has been partner and COO of the company since its inception. Before joining the business in 2007, Diggle spent more than a decade at China-based investment group Cathay International, where he worked predominantly in corporate finance.
Crawley said that the firm had succession plans in all areas of the business, so were “well prepared for Robert Diggle to become CEO”.