Britannic chief quits after just seven weeks with life company

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The Independent Online

The chief executive of Britannic, the insurer and fund manager, has quit just seven weeks after assuming the role because he felt life was passing him by.

Danny O'Neil accepted the role in March and started in December but has since decided he wants to spend more time with his family. He has triplets aged nine and an 18-year-old daughter at university.

"Even before I took the job [combining work and family] was a challenge. I was quite used to coming back from holidays in France to make presentations to the company. There's no one trigger for my decision – just the thought that Britannic needs more than someone who isn't wholehearted about the role," he said.

The company is thought to have suggested he relocate from Glasgow to Birmingham where it is headquartered.

Mr O'Neil said that while he was "content" in his personal life he did not want to see life pass him by. He is to work on a consultancy basis for Britannic for three days a week, and has no plans to acquire a portfolio of non-executive directorships in common with many former chief executives.

There will be no special payments associated with the change of role. Britannic did not disclose what fees it would pay Mr O'Neil, whose predecessor as chief executive earned £306,000.

Harold Cottam, the chairman, is to assume the chief executive's responsibilities until a replacement is found. "It could take six or seven months. We have identified potential candidates. I will be implementing the strategy agreed by Danny and the board," he said.

Separately, Britannic posted new business figures for 2001 showing sales of managed funds down £551m at £449m, and unit trusts sales up from £237m to £302m.