Hanson scion steps out of father's footsteps

Robert Hanson, son of Lord Hanson, yesterday said he would leave the company that bears his father's name at the end of next month.

Hanson junior has followed in his father's footsteps by appearing regularly in the society columns with young ladies on his arm. Once thought by analysts to be the heir to his father's business empire, Robert Hanson appears to be distancing himself from it by this move.

Hanson is the building materials company that remained after the break- up of the amous tobacco to coal mining conglomerate was completed earlier this year. The remaining, smaller Hanson subsequently fell out of the leading FTSE 100 index. The Hanson empire reached its peak during the Thatcher boom years but split up after conglomerates went out of fashion. Its shares lagged the FTSE 100 index for a year, and investors saw it as unwieldy and unable to add value following the recession of the early 1990s.

Robert Hanson is corporate development director of Hanson, and his principal remaining responsibility is to find a buyer for Grove Worldwide, the company's US-based crane-making unit, which analysts value between pounds 300m and pounds 400m.

The company declined to comment on whether a sale was imminent.

Hanson shares rose half a penny to 285.5p.