Leng's appointment triggers Laporte share surge

MAGNUS GRIMOND

Shares in Laporte leapt 30p to 821p yesterday, putting the speciality chemicals group on the edge of the FT-SE 100 index, after it announced the appointment as chief executive of James Leng, the man credited with revitalising the paper and packaging group Low & Bonar.

News of Mr Leng's departure wiped 25p off Low & Bonar's share price, leaving it at 493p.

Mr Leng, whose basic pay will double to around pounds 350,000 after he starts work on 1 October, said accepting the job had been a difficult decision to make. "I did it with a touch of sadness. But what attracted me was the potential and the chance to operate on a slightly bigger stage." The philosophy at Laporte was similar to that at Low & Bonar, he said, involving niche products and a devolved management structure within a strong financial control mechanism.

Laporte, valued at just short of pounds 1.6bn after yesterday's share price rise, has been looking for a new chief executive since the end of last year. Ken Minton, the present incumbent who announced his intention to become part-time chairman in May, said they had been looking for someone who would fit within the Laporte culture and had a good track record.

Mr Leng is well regarded in the City, having overseen a more than doubling in Low & Bonar's market capitalisation since he became chief executive in 1992.

At Laporte, as well as his basic pay, he will have the chance to earn a bonus varying up to 30 per cent of his salary for good performance. He will also be entitled to share options worth four times his salary.

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