Alliance & Leicester chairman dies suddenly

The chairman of Alliance & Leicester, Sir Derek Higgs, has died suddenly, the company announced today.

A&L said in a statement Chief Executive David Bennett would return to work on 6 May after recovering from illness.

A statement on the mortgage bank's site said: "It is with deep regret that Alliance & Leicester announces the unexpected death of its Chairman, Sir Derek Higgs, at the age of 64. He was taken ill suddenly yesterday, 28 April, and died in a London hospital yesterday afternoon.

"Deputy Chairman, Roy Brown, will act as Chairman in the short term whilst a permanent successor as Chairman is identified."

Mr Brown said: "It was with shock and sadness that we learned of Derek's sudden and unexpected death and our thoughts are with his family. Derek made an outstanding contribution to British business and was a well-known figure in the City; he was a pleasure to work with.

Sir Derek was appointed to the board of Alliance & Leicester plc as Chairman from 28 October 2005.

Roy Brown, aged 61, was appointed to the Alliance & Leicester board in May 2007. He is Chairman of GKN plc, Senior Independent Director of HMV Group plc and a non-executive director of the Franchise Board of Lloyd's of London. Formerly, he was an executive director of Unilever plc and Unilever NV.