Industry link is in safe hands

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RONNIE Hampel, the man taking over as head of the bulk chemicals side of ICI, was joking last week that when anything important happens at ICI he acquires another grandson. One was born the day after Lord Hanson bought his fateful 2.5 per cent stake in the company last year, and another arrived last week as ICI took the historic move of splitting itself in two, writes Richard Thomson.

That is appropriate for a man whose two main interests are his job and his family. He has worked at ICI for 36 years - he is now 60 - and has been married for nearly as long. He also likes golf and tennis.

Mr Hampel now has two years as chief executive of ICI. He is the obvious choice to run the new company, having held positions all over the group, mostly in ICI's traditional bulk chemicals businesses. He is the safe pair of hands the company needs as it establishes itself as an independent entity.

Mr Hampel's father, an engineer, came to Britain from Brno, now part of Czechoslovakia, to build sugar factories. Ronnie was born in Britain and read modern languages and law at Cambridge before joining ICI as a trainee. Within ICI, he is known as a demanding manager, enthusiastic and straight- talking. He is also, unusually among the higher echelons of British industry, teetotal.

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