Kingspan's Robert Barr resigns from board

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The Independent Online

Kingspan, the family-run Irish construction firm, yesterday lost its chief operating officer Robert Barr, who is resigning to join a private equity syndicate in the UK.

Mr Barr, 47, has worked for the company for four years, having joined Kingspan from the pharmaceutical packaging firm Bespak. He earned €265,000 (£186,000) as a basic salary in 2002 and his total remuneration package totalled €339,000. He is currently employed on a one-year contract, and a spokesman for the company said his contract terms would be honoured.

Mr Barr has joined a private equity syndicate that has more than £100m to invest. His first project will be to take control of Astucia Limited, a technology company which specialises in road intelligence and speed camera equipment. The company has recently been refinanced and Mr Barr has put in his own stake into the business.

"I have always wanted to run my own business and have been on the look out for opportunities," Mr Barr said. "This has been done with the full knowledge of the board and they have given metheir support. Astucia is at the next stage of its development and I was approached by someone who thought I might be interested." Mr Barr will leave the group in October, but it is not yet known whether he will be replaced.

Eugene Murtagh, chairman and chief executive of Kingspan, co-founded the building materials manufacturer with his brother Brendan. They both still have substantial shareholdings in the group. Eugene holds about 24 per cent of the company, making his holding worth an estimated €117m.

Kingspan has been enduring difficult trading conditions in the building market over the past year. Profits at the company in 2002 fell 13 per cent to €63.7m and operating profits were down 17 per cent to €73.1m.