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Business News

Akzo Nobel's new chief joins executive sick list

The chief executive of the Dulux paint maker Akzo Nobel has become the latest high-profile business leader to take time off because of fatigue or illness.

Ton Büchner is standing down until about mid-October to overcome what the company called "temporary fatigue".

Mr Büchner, 47, only took the job in April and shares in the chemicals group slid more than 5 per cent on the news.

A year ago Lloyds Banking Group's chief executive, Antonio Horta-Osorio, took two months off to recover from severe fatigue. More recently Lonmin's chief executive, Ian Farmer, and BG Group's finance director, Fabio Barbosa, have been given time off for treatment for serious illnesses.

Despite saying it expected Mr Büchner to be back at work next month, Akzo Nobel cancelled its third-quarter results meeting with investors scheduled for 22 October, but will still report its results four days earlier.

Rabobank analysts said: "As Akzo Nobel is in a critical phase with its restructuring programme and setting a new strategy, the absence of the chief executive is clearly not good news. As Ton Büchner previously was the chief executive of Sulzer, and as such is accustomed to the amount of work needed as a chief executive of a listed company, we are a bit surprised by this news."

Mutlu Gundogan, an analyst at ABN Amro, said: "Until this news, he'd given a very good impression."

Akzo said its finance director, Keith Nichols, would be the "first point of contact" in Mr Büchner's absence.