Top two check out of Millennium & Copthorne

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The Independent Online

Millennium & Copthorne Hotels suffered a double blow yesterday as it announced that its chief executive and finance director would be leaving the business.

The chief executive, John Wilson, 62, who has been with the company for six-and-a-half years, has decided to retire and is looking for non-executive positions instead. The finance director and company secretary, David Thomas, has resigned to become finance director of the computer games retailer Game Group.

Mr Wilson leaves on 1 March while Mr Thomas has agreed to stay on until 1 July, if required. The company's chief operating officer, Tony Potter, and Wong Hong Ren, an executive director, will become joint interim chief executives while the company looks for replacements.

Shares the group closed down 2.5 per cent at 306.75p after the statement, but the company insisted its financial performance would be in line with previous guidance. "It's unfortunate timing ... but the two departures are entirely unrelated," Mr Wilson said, adding he had been contemplating retiring for a while.

He would not comment on speculation that the company's dividend might be cut. "Whatever happens will be a board decision and that decision has not been taken and will not be discussed until the February board meeting," he said.