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People and Business: End of the line

THE MILLER GROUP, Britain's biggest privately owned property developer, has just got its first non-family chairman since it was founded 65 years ago.

Not that the retiring chairman James Miller is anything other than delighted with his successor. The Edinburgh-based company has managed to nab Bob Speirs, until recently finance director at Royal Bank of Scotland.

John Richards, Miller's finance director, enthuses about Mr Speirs's "high profile and good connections in the industry". Mr Speirs will continue as non-executive chairman of Direct Line, RBS's online insurance arm, as well as sitting as a non-exec on the boards of Stagecoach and MacFarlane Clansman.

He will also stay on as a non-exec at Canary Wharf Group, the development in London Docklands that recently completed a pounds 2.2bn float. The Miller Group hopes his contacts will prove useful in its commercial and residential development business, two-thirds of which is south of the border.

Mr Richards says: "There is only one remaining Miller family member on the board; James Miller's cousin Keith Miller, who is chief executive." That should be the end of the dynasty, he adds. "There is no succession coming through."