Nolan quits Lattice to take up Eircom post

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Lattice, the owner of the gas network operator Transco, suffered a double blow yesterday after its chief executive quit and the energy regulator Ofgem introduced tougher compensation rules for consumers whose gas supplies are cut off.

Phil Nolan, who has been chief executive of Lattice since its demerger from BG a year ago, will leave in January to become chief executive of Eircom, the Irish telecoms group which was recently bought by Sir Anthony O'Reilly's Valentia consortium for 3bn euros (£1.9bn).

Mr Nolan, 48, is said to have been offered a salary and shares package potentially worth millions of pounds for making a success of Eircom. He is from Northern Ireland himself and graduated from Queen's University, Belfast.

Sir John Parker, the chairman of Lattice, will take over temporarily as chief executive until a replacement is found. Sir John said he could "well understand the attractions of the offer" for Mr Nolan, whose wife is also Northern Irish.

Lattice said that a search for a successor had begun internally and externally although the new chief executive is unlikely to be on board until spring next year at the earliest.

Meanwhile, Ofgem announced that with immediate effect Transco will have to pay £20 compensation a day to householders whose supplies are cut off by third parties such as water companies or cable operators. Previously, customers could only get compensation if the disruption was caused by Transco itself. Transco will have to take out insurance to cover the extra costs it faces.