People & business: Why flying chicken may hold the key to ICI's share recovery

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The Independent Online
THE SHARE price is not the only thing that is collapsing at ICI these days.

A colleague went to lunch the other day with the chief operating officer, Brendan O'Neill, at ICI's famously alcohol-free London HQ, 9 Millbank.

Just as they were tucking into starters, the dining table gave way, sending warm chicken flying across the floor. After an abortive attempt to repair the table, ICI's new catering manager suggested they move to another dining room.

Whereupon the resourceful Mr O'Neill produced a bottle of fine wine to cheer up the somewhat shaken party. He did not get to the top at Guinness, his last employer, without knowing what the customer wants.

With style like that, Mr O'Neill may just be what the ICI share price needs.

ENGLISH CHINA Clays announced yesterday that Paul Hollingworth is to join the company as finance director on 1 March.

But will there be a job for Mr Hollingworth to go to? After all, the kaolin giant is fighting off a hostile pounds 680m bid from Imetall of France, launched on Monday.

A spokesman for ECC responded: "Just because we're facing a bid doesn't mean the business doesn't go on."

Mr Hollingworth is currently vice-president finance of an American-owned company, Textron Turf Care and Speciality Products, which bought British lawnmower maker Ransomes last year. The ECC spokesman said Mr Hollingworth will be paid pounds 195,000 a year and will be on exactly the same 12-month contract as the other directors. "There's nothing different because of the bid," said the spokesman.

The new man will fill the gap left by Patrick Drayton, who resigned as ECC finance director in October to return to his original job as a director of corporate finance at J Henry Schroder & Co.

ECC is awaiting an offer document from Imetall. Its advisers for the defence are CSFB - and Schroders. But Mr Drayton is not on the defence team, I am assured.

MIKE KERSHAW is steeling himself for retirement as chief executive of Stanley Leisure after 20 years with the betting shop and casino company. "I joined them when they came over from Northern Ireland to Liverpool and I was a manager for Ladbroke in the North-west, in charge of 80 betting shops", he recalls. "I saw an ad in the Sporting Chronicle and applied and six weeks later they offered me the job. I became general manager, and we went public in 1986."

Mr Kershaw has been in betting and bookmaking all his working life, starting in Leeds. "Next Thursday I reach the magic age of 60. After that I intend to take it easy. Being chief executive isn't a job you can do without a lot of effort. I hope to improve my golf."

LORD PUTTNAM of movie fame and Don Cruickshank, the former director general of Oftel, have joined a media outfit, Spectrum Strategy Consultants, as chairman and deputy chairman respectively.

The agency was founded in London five years ago by Janice Hughes, formerly of Booz.Allen & Hamilton, and Kip Meek, a rival telecoms consultant at Coopers & Lybrand.

Mr Cruickshank has built up quite a portfolio of jobs since leaving Oftel, including the hot seat at Action2000, the Government's millennium bug task force. He should be in his element at Spectrum, which in the past year has advised clients on bidding for telecoms licences in Singapore, bid strategies for wireless broadband licences in the UK, and the launch of digital TV in the UK and around the world.

IF YOU think you're busy, spare a thought for Philip Moody, a corporate finance partner in Bristol-based accountants Solomon Hare, who has clocked up over 400 deals since joining the firm in 1983. Mr Moody averages nearly 50,000 business miles a year servicing clients such as Prism, the rail company. He "rarely takes a holiday", according to Solomon Hare's latest corporate brochure.

Incidentally, the brochure includes a profile of one of the firm's clients, Albermarle & Bond, which runs "modern neighbourhood finance centres". This apparently is the new name for "pawnbrokers".

ONE OF the UK's leading commercial media lawyers, Serena Tierney, is leaving London law firm Marriott Harrison to become head of Intellectual Property and Trademarks at a global sports marketing firm based in Lucerne, Switzerland.

Ms Tierney's new firm, ISL, is beefing up its legal team from half a dozen to 30. It is heavily involved in marketing and sponsorship for the Olympics, World Cup and Asian Games.

One of Ms Tierney's claims to fame is that she once played hockey for the Essex Under-14 side. The Swiss won't know what hit' em.