The Business On: Nigel Keen, Executive chairman, Laird

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The Independent Online

Executive chairman?

That's right. Mr Keen is stepping up from his current non-executive role to run the company. Peter Hill, the current chief executive, has had to step down due to ill-health.

Is this a permanent arrangement?

No. Mr Hill won't be returning, but the company says it will appoint a new chief executive in due course, rather than Mr Keen taking over for good.

Is Laird in safe hands?

It should be – Mr Keen knows it backwards. He's been on the board of the electronics and technology company since 1993 and chairman since 2000. He's also got experience from board positions at a number of other companies.

So investors will be pleased?

There may be an eyebrow or two raised. Mr Keen did cop a bit of flak over the summer for the way in which he handled a potential bid for the company from the American firm Cooper Industries. Laird was super-aggressive in terms of the price it thought Cooper should offer. Though the shares rocketed on news of the bid, Mr Keen pressed Cooper so hard it eventually walked away. Since then, the stock has fallen right back again.

And how's business?

Much better than at many UK companies. One of Laird's most important businesses is selling key components to smartphone and tablet computer manufacturers. Demand is still very high.

So a bidder might return?

It's certainly a persistent rumour amongst analysts. If so, expect Mr Keen to come under pressure to play ball.