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ICI chief's trivial pursuit

BRENDAN O'NEILL has been confirmed as chief executive of ICI, having completed his probationary period since joining last May as chief operating officer. This is prompted by the retirement as chairman of Sir Ronald Hampel, who will be succeeded by Charles Miller Smith, the former chief executive.

Mr O'Neill insists his number one priority is "to press ahead with ICI's established strategy of turning itself into a speciality chemicals company." He has his work cut out. Its current market cap is less than what ICI paid Unilever for its speciality chemicals side. The exact size of Mr O'Neill's task will be confirmed today when its results are announced.

Anyway, Mr O'Neill looks like the man for the job. A keen Guinness drinker - he really made his name heading Guinness Brewing from 1993 to 1998 - the native of St Helens is also a Rugby League fanatic and obsessive about pop music trivia.

"I would like to think, though, that that is not what got me the job," he adds.

Poor analysts

SALARIES IN the Square Mile are more varied than you might think. While around a fifth of all analysts earn over pounds 150,000 a year, another fifth have to struggle by on less than pounds 50,000.

Tucked away in the latest Reuters Survey of European Larger Companies, I also learn that over half of analysts work between 61 and 80 hours a week, with about 5 per cent putting in over 80 hours.

Gavin Casey, chief executive of the London Stock Exchange, handed out prizes to the top-rated people yesterday at the Drapers' Hall in the City.

The prize for best individual fund manager was a draw between Robert Tann of Capital Group and Mark Ferguson of Schroder Investment Management. Fidelity Investment Management won the gong for best fund management group, while Merrill Lynch ran away with three titles, best broker sales team, best broker research and best broker execution.

Moving story

"MOVING OFFICE is nearly as bad a moving house," as far as John Newton is concerned. The affable head of the City PR firm Newton & Co has thrown in his lot with larger rivals Grandfield to create Grandfield Newton, and moving his files over has been traumatic.

Mr Newton is perhaps best known as the mouthpiece for Arthur Andersen's insolvency experts. These used to include John Talbot, who wound up the private side of Robert Maxwell's empire. Now Mr Newton is the envy of his former liquidation colleagues, having been made global head of corporate finance at the accountancy giant.

Mr Newton himself has some filial competition - his son Richard Newton left the Sunday Telegraph last autumn to help launch an innovative screensaver company.

Regal revamp

REGAL HOTELS, which owns 117 mid-market hotels in the UK, has rejigged its board to boost its expansion. It has brought in a new chairman, Professor Arthur KC Li, who is currently vice-chancellor of the Chinese University of Hong Kong. The company has also promoted David Masters to be executive deputy chairman. He is currently managing director of Kerry Investment Management, a Hong Kong company.

There are also two new non-execs: Baroness Wilcox, the former chairman of the National Consumer Council and Tan Sri Dr Kay Peng Khoo, a Malaysian industrialist.

Microfiche catch

BRITAIN'S LARGEST online business information provider, ICC Information, has bought the microfiche library owned by Companies House in City Road, London.

Alistair Pauline, group managing director of ICC, points out that the 35,500 kilos of microfiche contains the information equivalent of more than one million kilos of paper, and equals the weight of approximately 40,000 City traders. The microfiche will be moved from London to ICC's Cardiff facility in August.