Eurotherm paves way for Hultman's return

Eurotherm is poised to end its simmering boardroom row with the appointment of a new non-executive chairman. An announcement may come as early as today.

The appointment will pave the way for the return of chief executive Claes Hultman, who resigned a month ago after failing to persuade non-executives to make him executive chairman of the electronic components group.

Eurotherm has drifted without a chief executive since Mr Hultman dramatically quit the company on 4 July. Shares in Eurotherm plunged on news of the departure of the Swedish businessman who is credited with a revival in its fortunes after a slump in profits at the beginning of the 1990s.

Although accounts differ, it is understood that Mr Hultman made it clear that there was not enough room in the boardroom to accommodate himself, Jack Leonard, founder and chairman of Eurotherm, and Peter Wade, chief operating officer. When he tried to concentrate too much executive power in his own hands, and the non-executives objected, he walked out.

That prompted an unusual intervention by a small group of institutional investors to have Mr Hultman reinstated. Hiding behind a wall of silence, the institutions and the Eurotherm board have spent the past month attempting to find a candidate acceptable to all parties. It is thought Mr Leonard will stand down early.

The return of Mr Hultman will bring to a close a sequence of events one analyst said yesterday had made the company the laughing stock of the City.