M&S and Sainsbury's shopping for Sir Clive

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The Independent Online

Sir Clive Thompson, ousted as chairman of Rentokil Initial last week, has been approached to become chairman of J Sainsbury and Marks & Spencer.

The former president of the Confederation of British Industry said that he had been approached to be chairman of two FTSE 100 companies. He declined to name them but The Independent on Sunday has discovered that they are Sainsbury's, where Sir Clive is a non-executive, and M&S.

Sir Clive said that he expected his ousting from Rentokil may put him out of the running for the posts. "I can't imagine it improved my reputation," he said.

However, he may be overly pessimistic. "There is a lot of sympathy for Sir Clive," said one leading institutional investor. "The problems over the last few months should not obscure the fact that he's been a top manager for two decades."

Rentokil's new chairman, Brian McGowan, will try to reassure the City at this week's AGM by making a commitment to raise the group's dividend. The group's share tumbled after Wednesday's profits warning, suggesting profits could fall to £350m this year from £409m in 2003.

Despite the fall, Mr McGowan is expected to say Rentokil will at least maintain the dividend this year.

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