Greene King chief quits in sudden shake-up

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SIMON REDMAN has stepped down as executive chairman of Greene King, the East Anglian brewer and pub retailer. He is likely to leave the company in the new year.

In an abrupt move that surprised the City, Tim Bridge, managing director, stepped up to the new post of chief executive. A hunt is on for a non-executive chairman, a post Mr Redman will occupy for the interim period, probably until early next year.

Mr Redman, who presided over Greene King's abortive bid for Morland in 1992, said yesterday that there had been 'no dispute over strategy or the direction of the company'. Asked if there were any personal clashes between himself and the rest of the board, he said: 'I do not want to make any further comment.'

Mr Bridge, MD since January 1990, said the board had wanted a different structure and he felt Mr Redman might have been reluctant to relinquish his executive responsibilities. No offer had been made to Mr Redman to occupy the new position of non-executive chairman long-term.

Mr Redman, who took over as executive chairman in January 1990, was on a three-year fixed contract expiring in May 1997. His salary was pounds 100,000 a year and negotiations on a pay-off are continuing, although it is thought unlikely his contract will be paid out in full.

One brewing analyst said: 'I think it is fair to say that Simon is a very nice guy who knows a great deal about the brewing industry, but who never felt totally at home as chairman of a plc.'

He said Mr Redman, who did not go into the office yesterday, had probably also taken a lot of flak for Greene King's star-crossed bid for Morland.

The group, best known for its IPA and Abbot Ale brands, was left with a 29.9 per cent stake in the Thames Valley brewer following the bid, which it sold for pounds 28.7m last month.

Another analyst said the City was likely to see Mr Bridge's appointment as being the installation of 'a safe pair of hands' rather than dynamic new blood.

The Bridge family is one of about five or six families reputed to speak for at least 15 per cent of the East Anglian brewer. Tim Bridge's father, John Bridge, is a former chairman of the company.

Greene King said yesterday that its underlying trading for the year to date remains satisfactory. The shares rose 3p to 519p.

(Photograph omitted)