De La Rue hires new boss to fight French bid

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The Independent Online

The banknote printer De La Rue has moved to end the uncertainty surrounding it with the appointment of a new chief executive, whose first job will be to fight off a hostile takeover bid.

The 200-year-old firm said yesterday it had poached Tim Cobbold, the head of the computer power supply company Chloride Group. He will take up the post at the beginning of January.

The company has been without a chief executive since James Hussey resigned inAugust, following production problems.

De La Rue's executive chairman, Nicholas Brookes, said Mr Cobbold's 20 years of international management experience "will be invaluable to De La Rue both in the short term as we work toresolve current uncertainties, and in the longer term". Mr Brookes will return to his role as non-executive chairman.

Company insiders said Mr Cobbold's first task was to defend the company against Francois-Charles Oberthur Fiduciaire. De La Ruerejected a £820m approach – 825p per share – in the autumn but the French group returned to the table with a 905p per share bid that De La Rue has also rejected, describing it as "opportunistic".

The offer came in the wake of De La Rue's announcement of a paper batch quality problem which was believed to be designated to its largest client, India. It later emerged that a number of employees had falsified paper quality reports. The company said at the time that the incident could cost it £35m.

Mr Cobbold joined Chloride – which was itself recently taken over by Emerson Electric – in 2007, and was appointed to the top job a year later. Previously he worked in senior roles at Smiths Group. Company insiders said his pay packet would be "in line" with Mr Hussey's, whose total remuneration was worth just over £450,000 during the 2010financial year.

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